A delicately flavoured, firm textured and meaty white fish, Monkfish is quite marvelous braised in a rich aromatic tomato sauce and served over a nest of pappardelle, which are large, very broad flat pasta noodles. The name comes from the verb 'pappare', which means 'to gobble up', an appropriate turn of phrase given the gusto with which the meal was devoured. A special treat, the dish was also made using pappardelle that we had brought back from Tuscany and fresh Pamigiano-Reggiano from Parma, from our last visit to Italy.
Antica Bottega Toscana's local handmade Pappardelle from Arezzo
Homemade 'Mamma Styles' Tomato Sauce that we made this past autumn
Healthy and low in fat, the monkfish tail is cut into generous 1 1/2-inch thick medallions, and marinated in olive oil, lemon zest and fresh thyme, salt and fresh ground pepper. The medallions are gently sautéed until they're almost cooked through, then braised in tomato sauce, served over thick and satisfying pappardelle, and garnished with shaved Parmigiano — Magnifico!
Pappardelle with Braised Monkfish & Tomato Sauce
1 Monkfish tail
1 lemon, zested
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
2 cups Tomato Sauce, homemade or store-bought
4-ounces dried pappardelle pasta
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Place the monkfish tail on cutting board and cut into generous 1 1/2-inch thick medallions. Combine a tablespoon of olive oil, lemon zest and fresh thyme in a large bowl with the medallions and season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
Preheat a large skillet on medium high with a tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté the monkfish until the medallions are almost cooked though, about 5 minutes per side, depending on the side of the medallions. Warm the tomato sauce in saucepan over medium-high heat. Once simmering, add the medallions and cook for a further 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the pasta until its al dente, according to the manufacturers instructions. Drain the pasta in a colander then return to the pot along with 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce; toss to coat. To serve, place the dressed pasta into two pre-warmed dinner bowls and top with the monkfish medallions and tomato sauce. Garnish with a flurry of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano with more on the side for extra helpings.