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    Spanish Besugo al Horno

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    Spanish Besugo al Horno

    This Spanish dish of baked bream, traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve, is one of the best festive main courses. It may not have the grandeur of a huge turkey-and-trimmings production, but with saffron and garlic baked into the roasted potatoes and onions, it beats it hands down on flavour.

    • Preparation time: 25 minutes
    • Cooking time: 65 minutes
    • Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes 60 minutes 30 minutes

    Serves: 6

    Ingredients

    • 1 large sea bream or red snapper, (or 2 smaller ones to make a total weight of approx 1.8kg)
    • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
    • 1kg waxy potatoes, such as Cara or Desiree, evenly and thinly sliced
    • 1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
    • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
    • A pinch saffron strands
    • 7 tbsp parsley, chopped
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

    Method

    1. Preheat the oven to 190°C, gas mark 5. Make a few deep slashes on either side of the bream or snapper, across the thickest part, so that it cooks evenly. Season the fish inside and out with salt and pepper, then squeeze over the lemon juice and rub it in well, again both inside and out. Set aside.
    2. Arrange the potatoes and onion in layers in a greased ovenproof dish that's large enough to take the bream as well (I use a shallow 35cm x 25cm dish). In a mortar, pound the garlic, saffron, 5 tbsp parsley and salt into a paste. Gradually work in 4 tbsp olive oil and 4 tbsp of water, then spoon over the potato and onion. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes, until the potato and onion are almost cooked.
    3. Lay the bream on top and spoon over the remaining olive oil. Return to the oven and bake for another 25 minutes if you're using 1 large fish, or 15 minutes more if you're using 2 smaller fish, until it is just cooked through. Scatter with the remaining parsley and lemon zest. Serve immediately.

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    Drinks recommendation

    Keep it soft and gentle. A Mediterranean rosé works beautifully with this dish.

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    4 stars