Sweet Onion Crusted Snapper with J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Merlot Sauce

recipe courtesy of Chef Oliver Saucy, Chef/Co-Owner of Café Maxx, Pompano Beach, Florida

Serves 6 to 8


  • 4 cups medium red onions, peeled and sliced 1/8” thick    
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar           
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp butter               
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large sauté pan, heat the 2 Tbsp of olive oil over medium low heat. Add the onions and cook until browned but not crisp. Add the vinegar and brown sugar, and continue to cook until all liquid has reduced and evaporated from the pan, stirring often. The onions should be well browned with a shiny and dark caramelized color. Swirl in butter and season to taste with salt and pepper, then remove from heat and cool thoroughly. This can be prepared two to three days in advance, keeping onions tightly covered in the refrigerator.


  • 1 clove garlic, chopped               
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • olive oil for sautéing               
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Merlot
  • 1 tsp tomato paste               
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream               
  • 1/2 to 1/3 stick unsalted butter
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Make sauce in a heavy saucepan over medium heat by sautéing garlic and shallots. When translucent, add tomato paste and cook for 30 seconds, stirring as needed. Add J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Merlot, lemon and heavy cream and cook until mixture is reduced by half. Whisk in butter to form an emulsion. Strain through fine strainer and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm until needed, being careful not to boil or allow sauce to become too cold after butter has been added. Have the reduction ready and add the butter just before service or make up to 30 minutes in advance and keep warm.

Fish preparation

  • 4  8 oz Yellowtail snapper filets, skinless and boneless   
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil for sautéing

Prepare snapper using a filet knife to carefully remove skin and cut away rib bones, rinse in cold water to remove any scales. Arrange filets on cookie sheet (with the skin side down) and lightly season with salt and pepper as desired. Using caramelized onions, pack on a light crust over the surface area of the fish (approximately 1/8 inch) dividing mixture evenly between filets. Do not allow crust to get too thick at any one area. This can be done up to 4 to 6 hours in advance.

In a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat, sauté snapper, onion crust side down, in olive oil. Shake and agitate the pan as needed to evenly brown onions, reduce the heat if the filets are caramelizing too quickly. Using a spatula, turn the portions carefully and sear for 1 to 2 minutes on the other side. Do not overcrowd the pan, so cook in two batches if necessary. Return filets to cookie sheet and bake in 375°F oven until filet is done, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Serve immediately with wine sauce sparingly divided on the plates with fish resting on top. Garnish with gaufrette potatoes if desired.