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Chef's Kitchen

Each month, a guest chef gives us a tip that elevates their cooking or simplifies things in the kitchen; something a home cook might not know. They also provide a recipe that uses the tip so you can practice at home. Our guest chef this month is Chef Brett Howell of Cutters next to the Pike Place Market. Cutters Crabhouse is an upscale, landmark restaurant famous for its fresh, Northwest-inspired seafood menu and panoramic views of Elliott Bay. Cutters features an extensive selection of Pacific Northwest cuisine and hand-crafted cocktails.

Chef Brett Howell comes to the Pacific Northwest by way of East Tennessee where he attended the University of Tennessee, receiving a bachelor's degree in hotel, restaurant, and tourism with minors in business and international business. He worked as the consulting manager for restaurant development with a large family of restaurants in Tennessee before moving to Seattle seven years ago to start his career with Restaurants Unlimited, Inc. His culinary background is embedded in Southern roots and the use of seasonal ingredients, stemming from his grandmother's love of fresh vegetables and fruit bought and bartered from local farmers in her small hometown in West Tennessee. Chef Brett is inspired by the seasonal food offerings and culture provided by the Pacific Northwest, and relates them to his beginnings in Tennessee. He is excited to continue his culinary path in Seattle with Cutters, where he arrived in mid-January 2017.


How to perfectly sear fish at home, by Chef Brett Howell

Searing fish is an easy way to elevate the average home-cooked dish, but it's often difficult to get that perfect, golden brown sear without drying out the filets. Fish is a popular meal for many home cooks and knowing the procedures to correctly searing a filet of fish can take any meal to the next level. A good sear gives protein texture and enhances the fish's appearance on the plate.

First, preheat your oven to 400F, and season the flesh side of a filet of fish with kosher salt and pepper. The type of fish doesn't necessarily matter, but thicker fish is better because it prevents the filet from becoming dry before serving. My favorite seasonal Pacific Northwest fish is halibut because it presets well with a number of seasonal ingredients and flavor found in the area.

Place a non-stick or cast iron pan on medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil or olive oil blend and keep close watch. When the pan starts to smoke, gently place the fish filet(s), seasoned side down, in the hot oil. Make sure the filet is placed away from you, so you don't get splashed with hot oil, and leave the fish be. The flesh of the fish will 'release' itself from the pan once it is seared and crisped. After about 20 seconds, use tongs to gently jiggle the filet. If it does not release immediately, give it another couple of seconds and try again.

Once it 'releases,' flip the fish over and take off the hot eye. You should see a crisp, light golden-brown color. If you want to create more flavors, add some wine or butter before throwing the filet in the oven. I recommend using a casserole dish if you're cooking for a couple of guests or have four or more fish filets. Leave the pan in the oven for 4-6 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. To get the best flavor and texture out of your fish, I recommend serving your fish medium, which generally registers at 120F in the center of the filet when using a kitchen thermometer. Once it reaches 120F, you're ready to serve and enjoy!

Click here to see Chef Brett's recipe


Cutters Crabhouse
2001 Western Ave, #100
Seattle, WA 98121


Watch for the next generation Howell chef; we expect great things






July 2017

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