Something about fresh fish and crispy potatoes always takes me back to Rome, since this is the meal I eat most often when I’m there. This elegant dinner can be assembled for one (or two) persons in about 45 minutes from start to finish. These dishes are simple enough to require no formal recipes, but I’ll take you through them step-by-step.
Begin with the dish that takes the longest–skillet potatoes. These potatoes are quicker than roasted potatoes, and much crispier on the outside/moister on the inside. They require no par-boiling–simply peel and dice into 1″ cubes. Place the cubes in a nonstick skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sprig of rosemary and a good sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Turn heat on low and cover. Every 5 minutes or so, uncover and toss the pieces to brown evenly. After about 30 minutes, uncover, taste for salt and add a teaspoon of butter to the skillet. Continue cooking uncovered until they become golden and crispy (another 10 minutes or so).
The second order of business is the broccoli. Tonight, I’m making my broccoli the way my neighbor Beppi taught me. He doesn’t blanch his broccoli, but rather, sautes them (raw) with onion, a touch of water, and olive oil. The broccoli are simmered until sweet and tender–about 20 minutes total.
After my potatoes were started, I began preparing the broccoli. In a skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, on low heat, I sauteed half a red onion for about 5 minutes, or until it began to sweat.
I added the broccoli, 3 tablespoons of water, and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper.
Cover the skillet and let them simmer until the water evaporates. When the water evaporates, the broccoli should be cooked through (if not, add a couple of teaspoons more water and continue cooking) and the onion should begin to sizzle. At that time, I uncover and turnoff the flame until my fish is prepared.
For the sole, I heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a nonstick skillet, while I dredge the fish in flour.
I’m using all butter here because the fish is thin and will cook in an instant. The butter will brown at a much lower temperature than oil, resulting in a much quicker browning of the delicate fish.
Once the butter is smoking and just beginning to brown, I add the fish to the skillet. I also add a few thin slices of lemon to caramelize alongside the fish.
This adds wonderful flavor to the fish and also prevents the butter from burning as quickly. I season the fish well with salt and pepper and cook it on highest heat for about 3 – 4 minutes per side.
At the last moment, I top the fish with a couple of teaspoons of fresh butter and some freshly chopped parsley (from the freezer).
When the fish is almost done, I turn up the heat under the potatoes and broccoli to give them one last sizzle before plating. Admittedly, the meal requires a bit of juggling of skillets (not to mention three skillets and a couple of lids to wash), but who is worthier of having a little attention lavished upon them by you (than you)??