I know braise is probably the last word you think of when the mercury is climbing and the dewpoint makes the simple act of getting dressed a sticky event, but trust me on this one you want to make this.
First the braise only takes 20 - 25 minutes...tops.
Second it's based on a recipe Molly Stevens fabulous, award winning, cookbook All about Braising
Third you use boatloads of cherry tomatoes and pretty soon people we will be AWASH in cherry tomatoes so read on and tuck this one away in your little mental file cabinet.
The other beautiful thing about this recipe is that you can chose any nice whitefish you like to braise, or, dare I say it, skip the fish and just toss this heavenly sauce with some pasta, add a salad and a good loaf of crusty bread and mmmm, maybe a nice COLD glass of rose and dinner is done.
Braised Monkfish with Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes
3 ounces pancetta or guanciale, diced
1 fennel bulb, cored, sliced or diced or however you like it
A good pinch of crushed red pepper and if you are in this house, an additional pinch of aleppo pepper because it makes everything taste good
1 pint cherry tomatoes, rinsed
5 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced
5 or 6 basil leaves, rolled like a cigar and cut in thin strips (chiffonade if you are so inclined)
1 monkfish tail (yes, I know, endangered, non-sustainable, but my local monger had it and someone had to buy it)
1/2 cup orzo (omit for paleo or pimal - might be nice over sauteed cabbage)
Extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Saute the pancetta or guanciale in 2 TBS olive oil until it is just crisp. Remove and drain, reserve. Add the chopped fennel and 1/4 cup water, stir, sprinkle with some salt, put the lid on and cook on low heat about 10 minutes or until the fennel is soft.
Add the tomatoes, the pinch of crushed pepper and slap the lid back on. Shake the pan a few times, walk away for 5 minutes and get your fish ready or start your water for your pasta or read a few pieces of mail.
When the tomatoes begin to burst, add the garlic, 2 or 3 more TBS of water, the reserved pancetta, and put the lid on again. Cook for 5 minutes.
If using the monkfish, make sure the thin layer, like silverskin, has been removed, rinse your fish, pat dry, sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides.
Heat up a nice skillet with 2 TBS of oil and quickly sear your fish on each side, 2 - 3 minutes.
Nestle the fish into the pan with your lovely braise, taste the sauce for seasonings and add salt and pepper if desired.
Cover again and cook 5 - 8 minutes or until monkfish is cooked though.
Add your basil and serve. In my case on a bed of orzo tossed with some extra virgin olive oil.