Saturday, September 18, 2010

Order in the Court: A Non-Traditional Court Bouillon for Poaching Fish and Vegetables

Greetings, faithful readers. Before we get to this week's recipe, one I hope you'll find different and interesting, there's a bit of news to share. Kissing the Cook is now linked onto Facebook! Just sign on, look up Kissingthecook Recipes (or search for the e-mail address, and, if you like, send a friend request. I promise it will be accepted. :-)

And now for our regularly scheduled recipe.

A classic (a polite word for "old"), tasty, and healthy way to prepare fish or vegetables is to poach them in a court bouillon.  Fortunately for us all, this wonderful and simple cooking method is making a comeback.

Court bouillon is quick and easy to put together. (In fact, it's a French term for “quick broth.”) There’s a modest bit of cooking time involved, but the broth doesn’t require very much attention while this is going on. And poaching itself cooks the meat or vegetables in just a few minutes which, for most of us hurried souls, adds to the method’s appeal. Court bouillon ingredients can vary from cook to cook, but all follow a basic structure of acid, water, herbs, and usually some vegetables. The acid is typically something like dry white wine or a good quality vinegar.

Being from the part of New Jersey which the locals usually refer to without the “New,” I was inspired to create my own take on all of this that I call, “Hudson County Court” Bouillon. The recipe follows. You’ll see that one of the key elements here is that the dry white wine is replaced by a good quality beer. (This is Jersey, after all.) To offset the bitterness that sometimes comes from cooking down beer, I’ve also replaced the water with vegetable stock.

And although it's not the usual way to use court bouillon, it also seemed to me that after the poaching has infused it with the essence of the cooked fish or vegetables, the remaining liquid could be turned into a very nice gravy-type sauce that would tie the whole dish together. As described below, a few additional ingredients do the job.

So all rise: Hudson County Court Bouillon is now in session. Judge for yourself. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

To make enough to poach, and have sauce for, three or four servings of fish or vegetables, begin by combining the following in a pan:  8 ounces of beer; 1-1/2 cups vegetable stock; 1 teaspoon dried parsley; 1 medium onion, chopped, with about 2 tablespoons set aside for making the sauce later); 1 teaspoon salt; ½ teaspoon whole peppercorns, 1 bay leaf; 1 teaspoon dried thyme; 1 stalk celery, chopped; and 1 carrot, chopped. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer it uncovered for about 20 minutes. When it’s done simmering, strain the mixture (discarding the solids) and return the liquid to the pan.

Bring the liquid to a boil, add the fish or vegetables to be poached, and lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer until the fish or vegetables have finished cooking. How long this takes depends on what your’re cooking, of course, but it should generally be only a few minutes, so keep an eye on it. When the fish or vegetables have finished cooking, remove them from the liquid and set them aside while you make the sauce.

To make the sauce, add the butter substitute, flour, and the 2 tablespoons of chopped onion you set aside earlier to the liquid, adding the flour slowly and whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Add the honey, then continue to cook over low heat until the sauce is the desired thickness, continuing to whisk constantly.

You’re done! All that’s left is to top the fish or vegetables with the sauce and serve warm.

As always, for a notebook-ready cookbook-style copy of this recipe, or any other recipe from this site, just post a comment asking for it (or send me an e-mail) and I’ll get it right out to you.

See you next week! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)


  1. This is Jersey, after all.

    Now, I so get that.

    Wait. I live here...oh, yeah.

    And this recipe I think I can handle. I'm always looking for a new way to eat veggies.

  2. Thanks, Mary. It's great to see you as always. Let me know how this goes! (And don't forget, this is also a great way to cook fish with all those Omega-3's.)

  3. Classic or old...well...very often is more reliable.
    Court bouillon looks and sounds so much better than a fattening Hollandaise for the asparagus.

  4. Brilliant for poaching delicate flavoured things but I have to say I would choose a lovely foaming Hollandaise every time for topping my asparagus!

  5. It's great to see you here, Angie; welcome! I agree hollandaise on asparagus is glorious! Court bouillons are sometimes used for vegetables but are probably more often used for poaching fish. We'd already had fish a couple of times this week, so when it came time to take a photo it worked out better to use a vegetable. If you use it for fish, by the way, I've found toasted almonds (sliced or slivered) add a nice crunch when you're putting the sauce part of the recipe together.

  6. First time here. I love your blog so far. great recipes, some non-traditional (I love my version of Court bouillon, now i need to try this for veggies)! Best of all, there is your personality in your writing.

    Will be back again...


  7. Thank you, Dave...Looking forward to seeing you here again!