Herb-Roasted Whole Snapper with Middlins and Tomato Gravy

By: Hannah Lee Leidy
Herb Roasted whole snapper with lemon and rice
Photo by Leslie Ryann McKellar

This Herb-Roasted Whole Snapper with Middlins and Tomato Gravy is a savory snapper recipe with a rich tomato-based gravy. Serve over rice.

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Serves 4


  • 1 (4-pound) red snapper, scaled
  • Salt and pepper to tast
  • 10 thyme sprigs
  • ½ bunch dill
  • 2 lemons, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 fennel bulbs, sliced
  • 6 bay leaves
  • Middlins (recipe follows)
  • Tomato gravy (recipe follows)

  • Middlins

  • 1½ cups middlins
  • 3-3½ cups chicken stock
  • Generous pat of butter
  • 2½ teaspoons salt

  • Tomato Gravy

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3 scallions, sliced thinly
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and position a rack in the center. Rinse fish and pat dry. Season cavity with salt and pepper, then stuff with thyme, dill, and lemon, reserving 6 lemon slices. Using a knife, score skin of fish on each side about halfway through (this will also help with portioning). Rub each side with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season generously.
  2. Place sliced fennel on a sheet pan in a layer about the width and length of the fish; this will act as a bed for the fish so the underside doesn’t burn. Place 3 bay leaves down center of fennel, about 3 inches apart, and top each with a lemon slice. Lay fish on top. Place 3 more bay leaves on top of fish and top each of those with remaining lemon slices.
  3. Roast fish on center rack until meat is flaky, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Filet by gently running a spoon down backbone and lifting upwards. For bottom filet, lift out bones and use a spatula to lift fish from fennel bed.
  4. Make the Middlins: To a pot over medium heat, add middlins, chicken stock, butter, and salt. Bring mixture to a boil, stir once, then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 20 minutes, then serve.
  5. Make the Tomato Gravy: To a pan over medium heat, add butter and onion. Sauté onion until translucent. Add flour and stir until absorbed. Stir in tomato paste until combined, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, sugar, a pinch of salt, and chicken stock; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in scallions and serve.

From Ricely Yours.

  • Recipe from John Ondo

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