Grilled Halibut with Potato-Fennel Puree

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Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4

Bulb fennel, also known as Florentine fennel or sweet anise, comes into season in early summer and is available well into the autumn months. Pureed with potatoes, it makes a light alternative to traditional mashed potatoes. The puree can be prepared up to 30 minutes before serving, covered and reheated.


  • 4 skinless halibut fillets, each about 6 oz. and 1 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh chervil, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
  • Grated zest of 1/2 orange
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

For the potato-fennel puree:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 fennel bulbs, quartered, cored and finely diced
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half, heated
  • 2 Tbs. mayonnaise
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste


Brush the halibut fillets with the olive oil to coat completely. In a small bowl, stir together the 1 Tbs. chervil, the fennel seeds, orange zest, salt and pepper. Sprinkle the mixture over the halibut fillets, distributing it evenly so that all sides are seasoned. Transfer the fillets to a shallow baking dish, cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Bring to room temperature 15 minutes before grilling.

To make the potato-fennel puree, in a large pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the fennel and sauté until translucent and golden, about 15 minutes. Add the stock, potatoes and the 1 tsp. salt. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the potatoes are soft when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and fennel in a colander, return to the pot and immediately mash with a potato masher. Add the butter and slowly pour in the half-and-half while stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the mayonnaise and continue to stir until light and creamy. Season with salt and pepper.

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill. Lightly oil the grill rack and position it about 6 inches from the heat source.

Grill the halibut fillets, turning once, until opaque throughout, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Garnish with chervil and serve immediately with the potato-fennel puree alongside. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Entertaining with the Seasons (Free Press, 2010).

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