Sauteed Lionfish With White Bean Ragu

Winter 2015

Executive chef Jason Pierce of Tampa Palms Golf & Country Club in Tampa, Fla., uses a soulful white bean ragu, fragrant with sage, bacon, and wine, as the vehicle for his sauteed lionfish.

1 cup flour
12 lionfish fillets (2-4 ounces each)
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
White Bean Ragu (recipe follows)
6 lemon halves, charred on the grill
1 cup micro basil

Sprinkle flour on a large plate or cutting board. Season both sides of the fillets with salt and pepper. Dredge in the flour, creating a light coating on both sides. In a large saute pan, cook the fillets in olive oil over medium-high heat until lightly browned, 3 minutes per side.

To serve, place the fish on top of the White Bean Ragu. Garnish with a charred lemon half and a pinch of micro basil.

Yield: 6 servings

WHITE BEAN RAGU

1/2 pound bacon chunks, cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 shallots, chopped
1/4 cup red onions, diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
2 cups cannelloni or navy beans, cooked
1-1/2 cups chardonnay
2 lemons, juiced
zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper 
3 cups fresh spinach, chopped and blanched
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons sage, chopped

In a large saute pan, cook bacon on medium heat, about 20 minutes until fat renders and the bacon is slightly crisp. Drain fat from the pan, and reserve the bacon on paper towels to blot the oil.

In another pan over medium-high heat, combine the oil, shallots, red onions, and red bell pepper. Saute until the vegetables are softened and aromatic, about 5 minutes. Add the cannelloni beans, chardonnay, lemon juice, and zest to the pan. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine on medium-low heat.

Raise heat to medium-high and let the wine simmer until reduced by half. On medium heat, add the spinach, butter, sage, and reserved bacon. Stir to combine. When serving, reserve a little sauce from the bottom of the pan to drizzle over the fish.

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