I'm feeling a little guilty about this post. Like Emily just pitched me a softball and I am about to walk home with a grand slam. No, this isn't a competition. I know. But she chose citrus and shrimp. She lives in Wisconsin and I live in Texas. And it's January (oops, today is February already. How did that happen?)
Let me back up a bit. Way back in 2008 I read Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I credit that as my first shift towards eating local and sustainable food. I read the book in July when the farmers markets in Chicago are bulging with the tastiest produce, meat, dairy, you name it they got it, and all sourced from less than 100 miles away. This was going to be easy. And it was. For a few months. Then it got cold, as it always does in the Midwest, but I didn't have a walk in pantry stocked with the summer's bounty. Emily is good at this. I haven't picked up on this art yet. I was afraid I might lose the drive to stick with the concept. Sometimes I do, especially when you consider my passionate love affair with all things Trader Joe's. But still to this day, I can't argue that the book changed my thinking and influences the dishes I prepare for my family.
I remember thinking how easy it must be for the Californians and the Texans, and all those other neutral climate folks to follow this lifestyle no matter the season. Not just for the fresh-off- the-root vegetables you can get in January but for the citrus. Beautiful, ripe, juicy citrus that you can NEVER get local in the Midwest. Citrus was my cheater item. And I cheat A LOT. I will put lemon on just about anything. Try me. So believe me when I say one of the first thoughts I had when learning of our move to Texas was "wow, we can get local citrus!" (And also, "Is there a Trader Joe's in Texas"...there is now...it opened in September...I was there on the first day.)
Grapefruits from the Texas valley have been popping up in my CSA since January and I just can't get enough. So I was thrilled to use them in a recipe this week. Grapefruit is often seen paired with avocado in a light winter salad. This is delicious. But I am bored with this combo. I have over done that. I also prepared a fantastic drink for a little get together we had earlier this month, the Paloma. In it's simple form it is grapefruit and Tequila but I jazzed it up with a little rosemary simple syrup, through in some Gin because I didn't have enough Tequila (bonus that rosemary and gin go so well together) and then added a splash of cranberry juice because it sounded like fun. This is also delicious. But that is not what I prepared for you today.
For some reason my mind instantly went to Beurre Blanc. I first met this delicious sauce while reading Julia Child's book My Life in France. You can not listen to that woman describe her love affair with this buttery sauce over fish without wanting to make it yourself. And when I received a beautiful used copy of her Mastering the Art of French Cooking for Christmas, it was one of the first recipes I made. It is such a lovely rich buttery sauce that is made fantastically creamy by the art of whipping butter slowly into a reduced citrus concoction. It takes finesse and careful planning. The sauce does not keep and must be consumed almost immediately, which likely won't be a problem.
Inspired by my drink, the Paloma, I thought I would go about using grapefruit with the sauce instead of lemon juice as Julia's recipe calls for. And the rosemary coupled so well with the grapefruit I had to include that as well. I also had pomegranate vinegar I have been wanting to try so I used that in replacement of the white wine vinegar. Likely you won't have this sitting around so the white wine vinegar will do just fine. But if you can pick it up (mine was from Trader Joe's) I thought it was an outstanding compliment to the grapefruit.
When Emily made shrimp, I initially thought I should steer away from that and do something different. But when you live this close to the gulf coast with access to LOCALLY sourced shrimp, I could not pass up this opportunity. Sorry Em. I won the shrimp battle. Oops. It's not a competition.
This is an excellent sauce for any kind of fish. But don't stop there. It always works great with vegetables, any vegetable that happens to be in season near you. We had roasted carrots and cabbage. I am dreaming of how it would taste on asparagus. Does asparagus grow in Texas? I'm going to need to find that out. Better still, you could just eat it with a spoon.
Until then, hey sis...try this!
Grapefruit Rosemary Beurre Blanc
Adapted from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking
In addition to the ingredient changes already mentioned, I also cut the original amount of butter in Julia’s recipe by half as much. Gasp! I’m sure she is rolling over in her grave right now, but I felt like the balance of creamy butter and acidic flavor was just right. Then again I like my sauces citrusy. If you want more butter, by all means, go nuts.
1/4 cup pomegranate vinegar, or white wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon finely minced shallot or green onion
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
12 tablespoons of unsalted butter cut into 12 pieces, preferably “good” butter like a European butter
In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, juice, onion, rosemary and seasonings and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring and scraping the sides of the pan occasionally with a heat-resistant rubber spatula, until the liquid is reduced to 1 ½ tablespoons, 3 to 5 minutes.
Pull the pan off the heat and add two pads of butter. Whisk constantly until it melts. Place back on low heat and continue adding pieces of butter one at a time after each piece is melted into the sauce. The butter will start to melt and the mixture will bubble and boil around the edges. The melted butter should look creamy, rather than melted and oily. Keep stirring and blending until almost all of the butter is incorporated, then remove the pan from the heat as you work in the last bit.
Remove and discard the rosemary sprig (squeegee the sauce off it with your fingers so you don't lose a drop). Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed, although this salt lover felt like only the ¼ teaspoon was enough for this dish. For a perfectly smooth sauce, strain it through a fine-mesh sieve. If you're OK with the onions and a few stray rosemary leaves, serve as is. I did. If possible, serve right away. To keep longer, transfer to a bowl set over a saucepan of hot water (no hotter than 110 degrees) or pour into a thermos to keep warm for up to 2 hours. If you don’t finish it (then you are crazy!) you can freeze it and just use a compound butter over meat and vegetables, but just don’t try to reheat it because it won’t be the same.