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Whole Roasted Branzino with Castelvetrano Olive Relish

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Cooking a whole fish looks hard. It’s not. The key is preheating the sheet pan and roasting it fast and hot.

Serves 4

2 whole branzinos, gutted, scaled, and fins removed

extra virgin olive oil

1 bulb fennel, sliced into ¼-inch wedges

2 leeks, cleaned and cut into ½-inch rounds

2 lemons, sliced into thin rounds

kosher salt

black pepper

extra lemon wedges, for serving

For the olive relish:

½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

½ cup roughly chopped Castelvetrano olives

1 large shallot, diced

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 475°F and set a rack on the top (beneath the broiler) and another on the bottom. Once hot, add a half sheet pan to the oven to preheat.

2. Rub the branzinos with olive oil all over and season generously on the skin and in the cavity. Toss the fennel, leeks, and lemons with a glug of olive oil and a pinch of salt.

3. Carefully remove the preheated sheet pan from the oven and place both branzinos diagonally in the center of the sheet pan (they will sizzle), then scatter the fennel mixture around the fish and place the sheet pan on the bottom rack. Cook for about 15 minutes.

4. While that cooks, combine the relish ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

5. After the first 15 minutes, turn the oven to broil and put the fish on the top rack under the broiler. Watch closely and rotate as needed to make sure everything is getting nicely browned. The fish skin should be getting very crispy and some of the outer edges of the leeks, fennel, and lemons should get a little char. This should take about 5 minutes.

6. Serve with the olive relish and extra lemon wedges.

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