Sundays were always grilling days growing up. And who else but Dad did the grilling? Naturally, Mom did all the prep work – the trimming, marinating, par-cooking and slathering. But Dad – the "rock star" – brought in the platter of perfectly cooked (fill in the blank). Steaks, pork tenderloin, ribs (short and spare), swordfish, kebabs and chicken. I always wondered how he knew exactly when the right time was to turn, baste, move to the cooler side and so on. But know he did and he was a master at it.
Me, I am just plain lucky. I throw things on and and pray. I pretend, at times, to time whatever it is that I am grilling. Once last week, I actually did time it and then needed to put it back on. Half the time, I expect the steak to say to – as did Saint Lawrence – "I'm done on this side, can you turn me over?" (That is what he said when he was martyred on a grill over a flame. Did you know that Saint Lawrence is the patron saint of football and cooks? In theory, that is where we get 'gridiron' for the football field.... Of course naming him the patron saint of cooks is an obvious conclusion.)
This Sunday, I went to the 17th Street Market in Tucson to get some fresh grouper. And just to keep the afternoon nice and easy, I decided a Romesco sauce would be just the foil for this sweet, juicy fish. The sauce is a breeze to prepare and there are as many recipes for this as there are for lemon squares – everybody's mother has the best! Here is my version - I hope you enjoy it!
1/3 cup ground almonds
2 slices French or Italian bread, crusts removed
1 shallot, minced and cooked in a little olive oil till clear
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1 cup coarsely chopped drained bottled roasted red peppers
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar (mix in a little balsamic for extra flavor)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 6-ounce pieces grouper fillet, washed and dried
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
Place almonds, bread, cooked shallot, pepper flakes, roasted peppers, vinegar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and purée until smooth. Through the feed tube, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream as you would making mayonnaise. The result will be a pinkish-orange pepper sauce.
Heat the grill to high for 5-10 minutes. While grill is heating, rub the fillets with olive oil and then season with salt and pepper. When the barbecue is hot, grill the grouper about 3 minutes per side (as if I would know how long I cooked them!). The important thing is to leave it undisturbed for at least 3 minutes so that it releases from the grill. Place cooked fillets on warmed plates and dress with a good dollop of the Romesco sauce.