PORTUGUESE BAKED WHOLE RED SNAPPER WITH CHORIZO, CLAMS, OLIVES AND POTATOES (for four as a main course and eight as part of a buffet)


1 large bulb fennel

kosher salt to taste

1 pound fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise

7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound fresh linguica, chorizo or kielbasa sausage, cut into ¼ inch thick slices

a 4-½ pound red snapper, gutted and scaled with head and tail left on

1 lemon, sliced into ¼ inch thick half moons

ground black pepper to taste

10 sprigs thyme, plus 2 tablespoons thyme leaves

10 sprigs parsley

½ pound mixed olives, pitted

12 littleneck clams

½ cup white wine

zest of 1 orange

1. Trim and discard stalks from fennel; reserve 10 whispy fronds. Halve fennel bulb lengthwise; slice into ¼ inch thick wedges. Bring 2 quarts salted water to a boil in a 4 quart saucepan. Blanch fennel for 4 minutes; drain and set aside. Add potatoes to boiling water; reduce heat to medium and simmer until tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain potatoes and set aside.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

3. Heat oven to 475*. Cut 4 angled slits on each side of fish, about halfway to bone. Put a lemon slice into each slit. Transfer fish to a lightly oiled, large, shallow, oven-to-table baking dish. Rub with 3 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper. Stuff cavity with remaining lemon, thyme sprigs and parsley. Arrange fennel, potatoes, sausages, olives and clams around fish and sprinkle with remaining thyme. Drizzle with wine and cover tightly with aluminum foil (tear off a large sheet of foil, brush one side of it with vegetable oil, and place it oiled side down on the fish to prevent sticking).

4. Roast for 45 to 55 minutes (if you have a smaller fish, 3 pounds, roast 35 to 40 minutes). Carefully remove foil. Sprinkle with zest, remaining oil and fennel fronds.

from Saveur Magazine, January/February, 2009

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