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Mar 24, 2018
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Midnight Meal: ‘Twas the night after dinner service, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring besides a chef and his spouse.
By Julie Cohen | Recipes by Patrick Connolly | Photos by Greg Rannells
Posted On: 12/01/2013   

Patrick and Suzanne Connolly know a thing or two about being night owls. From the moment they met and began dating from a distance – Suzanne living in New York City, Patrick working in Boston at Radius, for which he would receive the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef: Northeast in 2008 – to their newlywed years in New York to his current job at Italian gastro-pub Basso, Patrick has always been an executive chef. “It’s so funny when my friends call me and say, ‘I’m so mad at my husband. He did not tell me he was coming home at 8 o’clock tonight,’” Suzanne says. “I’m like, 8? That’s awesome!”

But just because the hours are often long and always late, doesn’t mean the Connollys never eat dinner together. At least a few nights a week, Suzanne stays up until Patrick gets home, so they can share a meal. She prefers not to cook. Why should she? When you’re married to a chef (and consequently a restaurant and its hours), there have to be perks.

So what happens after dark, when the rest of us are sated and asleep? A midnight meal that must be fast, easy and, most importantly, worth the wait.

Suzanne describes a routine night: “He walks in and I say, ‘Feed me.’ And he’s like, ‘I just walked in.’ I say, ‘Feed me. I’m dying.’ He goes into our pantry and knows. The first time he was at my house, I had nothing in my kitchen. Nothing. He somehow managed to pull together this amazing frittata. I was like, ‘I don’t even know where you got the ingredients for this.’ I thought he was going to grab a frozen Lender’s bagel. He takes whatever is there and creates a meal. It’s pretty awesome.”

Although Patrick claims to rarely repeat one of his by-the-fly dinners, there are certain mainstays, like chicken soup. “I have two versions. One is the daylong chicken soup that’s on the stove for six hours. And the other is the ‘Hurry up, I’m starving’ version.”

“I’m convinced his chicken soup heals people,” Suzanne says. “I’m not kidding.”

“Suze tried to make one when we were living in Brooklyn. I remember because when I got home, there was this poor drowning chicken in the bottom of a stockpot covered in water just looking up at me like, ‘Somebody do something.’”

“I can defrost, and I put things in the microwave,” Suzanne defends herself.

“That one holiday you made brisket …” Patrick encourages.

“I can make a few family recipes.”

“And there’s her spaghetti and meat sauce recipe …” Patrick says with a smile.

“He doesn’t think my meat sauce is real because I use Prego.” [Patrick laughs.] “I add meat. I doctor it up.”

“With canned mushrooms.”

“God forbid, we just have easy-peasy,” Suzanne retorts. “He’s incapable of just making a normal grilled cheese. Everything has to be presented and plated.”

“It’s principle.”

Roasted halibut with spinach and fingerling potatoes
Basso's Patrick Connolly
Makes 2


1 lb. fingerling potatoes
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. sliced chives
10 oz. fresh spinach
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 lemon
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 6-oz. skinless halibut fillets
1 Tbsp. butter
2 sprigs thyme


For the potatoes
• Place the potatoes in a pot, cover with cold water, and cook over high heat for 10 minutes, or until tender. Strain and cut each potato into thirds.
• In a saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat until it begins to ripple. Add the potatoes to the pan and roast for 5 minutes, turning occasionally, until browned and crispy.
• Season with salt, pepper and chives. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

For the spinach
• In the same saute pan, toast the sliced garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat until the garlic is light brown.
• Add the spinach, cover, and decrease the heat to low. Cook for 3 minutes.
• Season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Save the lemon for garnish. Transfer the spinach to a bowl and set aside.

For the halibut
• In a saute pan, heat the canola oil over high heat until it begins to ripple.
• Season each halibut fillet with salt and pepper on the bone side (the side of the fish that would have been attached to the bone), pat dry and place bone-side down in the pan.
• Decrease the heat to medium and roast for 5 minutes.
• Season the other side with salt and pepper. Carefully flip each fillet. Add the butter and thyme to the pan.
• Baste the fillets for 2 minutes with the butter and thyme.
• To serve: Divide the fillets, spinach and potatoes between two plates and garnish each with half a lemon.

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