Baked brill with fennel and Piccolo cherry tomatoes

Brill is a wonderful fish often overshadowed by the likes of turbot or halibut. Its large size makes it an excellent candidate to be baked whole – a method that's both foolproof and looks seriously impressive. Matt Beardmore pairs the delicate flavour of the fish with sweet Piccolo cherry tomatoes and the subtle aniseed of caramelised fennel wedges. Bring to the table straight from the oven and let people tuck right in, with some good bread on the side for scooping up the cooking juices.

First published in 2021






Preheat an oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6


Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Trim and wash the fennel, then cut each bulb into 6 or 8 wedges, leaving the root attatched so the pieces stay together. Blanch the fennel in the boiling water for 4 minutes, drain well and place on a clean tea towel, patting dry so the oil doesn't spit when frying them later


Heat 100ml of the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the fennel pieces, cut-side down. Sauté until lightly golden, then transfer to a deep roasting tray, big enough to fit the whole fish in

  • 100ml of olive oil

In the same frying pan, add the tomatoes and fry over a high heat for 5 minutes until they start to blister and take on some colour


Add the olives and garlic to the pan, toss together, then pour in the wine and cook for 1 minute. Pour everything in the pan into the roasting tray with the fennel, along with half of the lemon wedges. Season with salt and stir everything together

  • 100g of pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1 garlic bulb, cloves peeled
  • 150ml of white wine
  • 1 lemon, sliced into wedges
  • salt

Trim the fins and tail from the brill, rinse and pat dry. Season both sides with salt and place in the roasting tray, nestled amongst the vegetables. Drizzle over the remaining olive oil and bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes, until the fish easily comes away from the bone at the thickest part

  • 1 brill, weighing approx. 1kg, scaled and gutted
  • 100ml of olive oil

Serve in the roasting tray sprinkled with the chopped parsley and the remaining lemon wedges

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The rustic, seasonal Italian dishes executive chef Matt Beardmore cooks in the kitchen of Legare in London are punchy, packed with flavour and a testament to just how incredible Italy’s regional cuisine can be.

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