Skate with Brown Butter and Honey
Poaching skate is a classic French technique but, like James, I prefer sautéing. Unlike James, I never thought of making the brown butter that typically accompanies it even sweeter by using honey, but I've also never been above appropriating a good idea, and I do think my simpler version captures some of the spirit of James's more elegant (and more complicated) dish.
Flour, for dredging
Salt and black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 (12-ounce) skinless skate wing fillets
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons capers, drained, or to taste
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish
1. Put a large skillet over medium-high heat. While it is heating, put the flour on a plate and season it with salt and pepper. Put the oil in the skillet it should coat the bottom well and turn the heat to high. When the oil shimmers, dredge the skate lightly in the flour, shaking to remove the excess, and add it to the pan. (You may have to cook in batches; if so, keep the skate warm in a low oven while preparing the sauce.)
2. Cook until the skate is nicely browned on the first side, about 5 minutes, then turn (use 2 spatulas if necessary to keep the skate from breaking). Cook on the second side, adjusting the heat so the fish does not burn, until it is firm to the touch, another 3 minutes or so. Reduce the heat to medium and transfer the skate to a warm platter.
3. Add the butter and honey to the pan and cook until bubbly, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the capers and swirl them around, then pour the butter over the fish. Immediately add the vinegar to the pan that the butter was in, swirl it around, and pour it over the fish. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.