Bacon-Wrapped Monkfish Medallions with Cajun Lentils and Creole Mustard Sauce

Serves 4
By Chef Lia

Ingredients for the Lentils:

  • 1# (approx 2 c) French green lentils, rinsed
  • 1 white onion, ¼” dice
  • 3 ribs celery, ¼” dice
  • ½ green bell pepper, ¼” dice
  • ½ red bell pepper, ¼” dice
  • 2 plum tomatoes, peeled and ½” dice
  • 1 tbsp Cajun spice
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 7 c chicken or vegetable stock

In a medium saucepan, sauté the vegetables with 1 tbsp cooking oil over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add lentils, spices, and stock. Raise heat to high, when lentils come to a boil, cover with lid slightly tilted to let out some air, and lower heat to a simmer. Cook for about 30-35 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and lentils are tender but not mushy.

Ingredients for the Fish:

  • 4-7 oz. monkfish filets
  • ½ lb. smoked bacon, thick-cut
  • Black pepper
  • 4 sheets plastic wrap
  • Mallet or flat side of meat tenderizer (or small frying pan, if you do not have a meat tenderizer or mallet)

Ingredients for the Creole Mustard Sauce:

  • 1 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
  • ¼ cup Creole or whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

For the Fish:
Lay out first sheet of plastic wrap. Place 3 strips of bacon on top of wrap, with about ½” of space left between each one. Fold the other half of the plastic over the bacon strips, so that the bacon is covered. Gently pound out the bacon strips so that they become almost paper-thin. Open the plastic wrap to expose the bacon and place one fish filet on top of the bacon, close to one end. Season the filet with black pepper. Wrap the fish tightly in the bacon, trying not to do so more than once. If you have excess bacon, just cut it off with a knife. (If the layers of bacon are too thick then they will not stay closed around the fish when cooking.) Wrap the fish tightly in the plastic wrap, holding the wrap at each end and twisting to form a securely wrapped package. Place aside and repeat the process with the other filets. This can be done up to a day ahead of cooking time.

Preheat oven to 375°. Take a large, oven-safe heavy bottomed sauté pan and heat about 2 tbsp cooking oil over medium-low heat. When the oil starts to shimmer in the pan, add the bacon-wrapped filets, pressing the open side of the bacon to the bottom of the pan. Sear until the bacon starts to crisp up (approx 3 minutes), then rotate each filet a quarter of a turn to brown the next side. When you turn the fish filets onto the last side, put the pan into the oven and finish baking for about 7-8 minutes. Remove the filets from the pan and place on a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb excess grease.

For the Sauce:
Wipe out the pan that the fish was seared in with a paper towel, taking care not to burn yourself. Add the chicken stock, mustard, honey, and hot pepper sauce. Bring to a boil on the stove, then reduce heat to low, cooking until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 6-7 minutes.

To serve, spoon lentils onto a plate. With a very sharp chef’s knife or a serrated knife, slice each monkfish filet into 2 medallions. Place the medallion atop of the lentils, and then spoon about 2 ounces of sauce over the fish. Serve immediately.