(by Natalie Balents)
1 eel, gutted
4 garlic cloves
4 sprigs fresh rosemary (optional: mint, thyme, bay leaves, parsley, tarragon, wild
chervil, or chives)
4 T. extra virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper
6 oz. dry white wine
Using a cast iron or heavy-bottom pan, sear the eel quickly over high heat, being careful not to damage the skin.
(You can also use an outdoor grill.)
Let eel cool, then butterfly it down the middle. The best way is to press the eel, skin-side up on a board to loosen the spine. Carefully peel away the skeleton (like deveining shrimp) and rinse the crevice you created under running water to clean out the insides. Then pat dry.
Stuff the crevice with garlic and a mix of aromatic herbs (this is the fun part) and tie up with kitchen twine so the stuffing doesn’t fall out.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Drizzle a baking sheet with olive oil, and arrange the eel.
Season with salt and pepper to taste, and roast for 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and add white wine.
Return to oven for another 10 - 15 minutes.
Serve immediately with a side of lemon. This dish is ephemeral and will never keep or reheat well.
It’s great served on a bed of soft polenta, drizzled with pan drippings, and a salad of bitter greens such as chicory (radicchio).