First things first – please excuse the horrible quality of the photos in this post. The urge to make something new struck me at the same exact time I realized my camera battery needs a charge. Thank goodness for high-quality cell phone cameras.
If you’re from up north, you probably know what Haddock Supreme is. It’s something I always order in every restaurant that serves it when I’m there. Fresh fish baked with a delicious cheesy sauce and buttered breadcrumbs. Fish and cheese? I know, it sounds weird, but trust me. So many of us eat fish because it’s a healthy alternative and we always grill or sauté it. Covering it with cheese and buttered breadcrumbs sounds like a crime, but why should chicken have all the fun? The only catch is that I’m a Florida girl and Haddock just isn’t my favorite, so I made this with Grouper and have renamed it Grouper au Gratin. We had fresh Snowy Grouper in the store, so I took that home for this. Snowy Grouper is delicious and they have really pretty white spots all over them, which is how they got their name.
Grouper au Gratin – Serves 4
- 2 pounds Grouper fillet
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- zest of one lemon
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 cup grated cheese (Cheddar, Gruyére, or anything you love)
- 1 cup crushed crackers
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Start by spraying four small oven-safe ramekins, au gratin dishes, or small loaf pans with a nonstick cooking spray (I use coconut oil spray). If you don’t have any of those things, you can make this in one large baking dish. Cut the fish into 4 portions that will fit in the dishes and nestle the fish down into the dishes. The way this fillet and the dishes were shaped, I ended up with 2 pieces in each dish… which is perfectly okay. Gather up the rest of the ingredients you need because, once you start making the sauce, you won’t want to get too far from the stove.
Next, you’ll make the sauce to go over the fish. This is so easy. Just melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Cook this (whisk the entire time) for about two minutes or until it turns a light golden brown. It will look bubbly. Add in the milk, whisking the entire time. Continue to whisk over medium heat until it begins to thicken. Whisk in the Parmesan, Dijon, and Thyme. (I like the Dijon because it’s made with Chardonnay and it just goes so nicely with seafood!) Remove from heat. I did not add any salt to this because the Parmesan, Cheddar, and cracker crumbs all had salt already.
Ladle the sauce over the fish. You want enough to cover the fish, but not so much that you’re going to overflow the dishes and have a disaster in your oven.
Top with the shredded cheese. Toss the cracker crumbs with the Olive Oil and a little more of the fresh Thyme and sprinkle this over the top of the cheese. Place the small dishes on a large baking sheet to protect your oven from spills (it also makes it easier to get them in and out of the oven).
Once they are browned and bubbling around the edges, they’re finished. Mine took just shy of 30 minutes. I was able to see the fish in a few places where it poked through the topping and could tell that it was opaque and fully cooked.
I put some fresh local corn in the oven to cook with the fish and we had some fresh pasta with pesto alongside it. It made for a pretty easy meal. (We cut our corn off the cob and bake it with a little bit of milk and butter – it’s the best!)
We finished this off with a Southern-Style Peach Cobbler because, if you’re covering your fish in a creamy sauce and cheese… why not? It was a giant hit with the whole family (and how could it not be?!)