Grilled Swordfish with White Beans, Morcilla, Corn, and Onions
It’s been a stretch since my last post, due to typical August things: a vacation, family visits, and as much outside time as possible. We’ve also been preparing ourselves mentally and emotionally for Willa & Phoebe’s first day of pre-K in a real live public school. We’re feeling a lot of the feels around here as we hit this big milestone, so before we get too lost in our fall schedule I wanted to share a favorite dinner from our week at the beach.
Back in my early restaurant days I spent several summers during college and immediately afterward as a dishwasher and then a cook in Provincetown, Massachusetts. If you have never been to this part of Cape Cod it’s impossible to describe the abundance of natural beauty and diversity of culture in such a small stretch of land stuck 20 miles out in the ocean (though Land’s End by Michael Cunningham is a great place to start). I’ll never forget those summers there, and now my wife and I make a point to have a vacation just outside of Ptown in North Truro every year, which has only become more fun with Willa & Phoebe in the mix.
I’ve been making variations of this dish almost every summer we’ve visited, even pulling it off when we were just a couple in a motel room with an efficiency kitchen. That is to say: this is a rustic dish. Any cutting and dicing can be accomplished with a beach-house-dull knife on a plate, and aside from the grilling you practically just throw everything into a pot and heat it up. (I have learned to bring my own knives on vacation at this point!)
The keys to this dish are of course the freshest fish, and more obscurely Morcilla, which is Spanish blood sausage. If blood sausage is not your style, you can make this dish with really any kind of sausage you prefer. It will change the spirit of the dish but not the outcome. Let’s face it: grilled fish, salt air, and good friends and family are hard to get wrong no matter what you do.
- For the mélange
- 2 ears of corn
- 1 large yellow onion
- 6 ozs. Morcilla sausage links
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 15-oz. can of Cannellini beans (white beans), drained and rinsed
- 1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
- 1 oz. fresh basil, roughly chopped
- 1 small can of low-sodium chicken broth, or a bottle of clam juice (optional)
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- For the fish
- 1-1/2 lbs. Swordfish steaks, cut into four portions (3/4" to 1" thick steaks)
- Olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. Pimentón de la Vera, dulce (sweet smoked paprika)
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Light your grill.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and steam your corn for 6 to 8 minutes. Run under cold water to cool the corn, hold the corn vertically on a cutting board and slice down the sides to remove the kernels.
- Slice your onion in half through the equator and peel. Do not remove the tips of the onion yet! Coat with a drizzle of olive oil, and place cut side down on your hot grill. You want to char the cut side of the onion so that it almost appears to be burnt.
- Grill your sausage while the onions are cooking. Be careful on the grill: there is a lot of fat in blood sausage, and it's already dark so it's hard to tell when it's burning. A few minutes each side (1/4 turns) should suffice.
- Once the onions are cooked and have cooled a bit, remove the tip ends and give the onions a rough chop to create big slivers or a large dice. Chop your sausage into large pieces as well.
- In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and sausage and stir once then allow to cook for a few minutes undisturbed. Add the corn kernels, white beans, and sherry vinegar and give it a stir. Add the basil and the optional chicken broth or clam juice. If you don't add broth or juice you'll want to add around a cup of water. Allow to come up to a simmer, then remove from heat and season with the salt and pepper to taste.
- Rub your swordfish steaks with a bit of olive oil, then add the cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper and massage into the steaks. You can season the fish 15 minutes to an hour prior to grilling.
- Grill the steaks 4 to 5 minutes per side, depending on thickness. To make a nice grill mark, rotate your steaks 90 degrees after three minutes, then cook for an additional two minutes before flipping. Allow the steaks to rest for a few minutes after taking them off the grill, then serve on top of the beans, sausage, corn, and onions mix. Find a bottle of rosé to go with that!
- I used a thinner, onion-based Morcilla for this dish. Often Morcilla is made with rice as a filler, which makes for a thicker link and is also perfectly acceptable here.