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4th of July Feast    
Pan Seared Rockfish with Braised Artichoke-Leek Relish and Oil Cured Olive Tapenade
Joseph “Jay” Comfort of Poste – Washington, D.C.
Adapted by StarChefs

Yield: 4 servings

This dish firmly plants its feet in the Spring cycle of ingredients – fresh from the water, line-caught Rockfish, budding artichokes, and early hearty herbs picked from a cold-frame. The tangy-sweet leeks, citrus and capers play tag while the earthen, iron-like quality of the olives remind us that Winter isn’t that far past. Serve with a heady white Burgundy (Dom. de La Maltroye – Chateau Maltroye) or go the other way with Willamette Valley Pinot Noir slightly chilled (Cristom, Louise Vineyard).


  • For the fish:
  • 4 each 5 oz Rockfish fillets – skin on
  • 2 Tablespoons clarified butter
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

  • For the Relish: Can be prepared four hours ahead. For best results and flavor, do not refrigerate.
  • 3 artichokes (large)
  • 2 leeks, medium sized, white stalk only – finely dice, rinse and drain to remove all sand
  • 2 lemons
  • 4 garlic cloves – 2 thinly sliced on a truffle shaver, rinsed under hot water, 2 whole
  • 1/3 cups flat leaf parsley – chopped coarsely
  • 4 fresh mint sprigs
  • ½ cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 Tablespoons clarified butter
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons capers – large salt cured, if available
  • 2 each bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste
  • Several sprigs of chervil

    Moroccan Oil Cured Olive Tapenade
  • 12 each pitted Moroccan oil cured olives, minced
  • 1 teaspoon confetti-minced shallot
  • 1/3 cup best quality extra virgin olive oil
  • (Mix all ingredients well with a mortar and pestle)


Sweat the leeks in 1 T of the clarified butter and then add 1 C of the wine. Reduce head and allow leeks to braise for fifteen minutes or until almost sec. The leeks should be clear and sweet. Allow to cool.

Zest both of the lemons with a “Microplane” and reserve for later.

In a bowl large enough to hold all of the artichokes squeeze the juice of one lemon, fill deep with approx. 2 quarts of water (now acidulated water) and the following: bay leaf, peppercorns, olive oil, salt, ½ of the white wine and some salt.

Peel the loose outer leaves from the artichokes, cut the top half of the leaves away exposing the hairy-like “choke” and pink inner leaves. Then, cut around the base until your knife exposes the “bottom” of the artichoke and peel the bottom and stem with a paring knife. Leave as much of the bottom and stem intact as possible as this is the desired part. Trim the bottom of the stem and immediately place in the acidulated water. Work quickly as artichokes will oxidize rapidly.

When finished trimming the artichokes, place the pot on the stove on med-high heat and weigh the artichokes down to keep them submerged. Bring ‘chokes to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool in the liquid until easy to handle. Clean the choke out and slice the bottom and stem in to ¼” thick slices, top to bottom, then dice in ¼” dice.

Toss the diced artichokes with the leeks, lemon zest, parsley, capers, garlic and olive oil. Season well and finish with the fresh picked mint leaves. Reserve aside, do not refrigerate.

Season the fish with salt and pepper then pan-brown, skin side down in a sauté pan in clarified butter. Baste with the butter and place in a 350-degree oven without turning until fish is at desired done-ness (9 minutes for very large fillets to be cooked medium).

Serve the finished fish over a spoon of the artichoke relish and drizzle the Moroccan oil cured tapenade on the side of the plate.