Walleye Pike Quenelle with Tomato Coulis and Fresh Mozzarella
Jonathon Sawyer, the 30-year-old chef/owner of downtown Cleveland’s Greenhouse Tavern, introduces his recipe for walleye pike quenelle. In the French classical tradition, quenelles are small dumplings made from poached meat, poultry, or fish. Formed using two spoons, they have a distinctive oval shape. Sawyer likes to use local walleye pike in his quenelles, but you can substitute steelhead trout or black cod.
THE TOMATO COULIS: Grill the tomatoes over high heat (or roast on a baking sheet in a 500°F oven) until nicely browned. Peel and seed, reserving the peels. Fortify the brodo by simmering with the peels and some Parmigiano rinds, if available. In a blender, working in batches, combine the tomatoes, brodo, and vinegar. (Don’t fill the blender more than halfway.) Slowly add a small amount of the olive oil and butter to each batch, pureeing until incorporated. Combine the batches in a mixing bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
THE QUENELLES: In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the butter with 1¾ cups water. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium. Add the flour and stir rapidly until fully incorporated. Transfer to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or to a bowl, if using a hand mixer or whisk). Add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, mixing rapidly until each is incorporated. (If using a whisk, switch to a wooden spoon as the mixture stiffens.) The result is a classic pâte a choux dough, which can be refrigerated for up to one day until you are ready to use it.
Place the pike in a freezer for about 15 minutes to make it easier to cut. Dice the par-frozen fish and transfer to the bowl of a food processer. Puree until smooth. Pass through a fine-mesh sieve and combine with the heavy cream, kosher salt, and pâte a choux. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring 1 gallon of water to a slow boil. Using 2 spoons of the same size, scoop and form a football-shaped quenelle. Repeat using the remaining fish mixture. Poach the quenelles, 2 or 3 at a time (so as not to overcrowd), in the boiling water until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove and drain.
Heat the oven to 500°F. Cut the bread into cubes and toss with olive oil. Toast on a baking sheet until browned. Transfer to a food processor and puree to make bread crumbs.
Place the cooked quenelles in an ovenproof baking dish. Cover each with tomato coulis and 1 thin slice of mozzarella. Bake until the cheese melts. Garnish each quenelle with 1 teaspoon of the bread crumbs and grated Parmigiano. Serve family style or on separate plates.
Written by Laurel Miller
Photography by Michael Cavotta