As alluded to in a previous post, I had a big (over 2 pounds) packet of fresh Pacific cod fillets to work with last week. I had been hoping for salmon, but we’re salmon snobs, and only the pink farmed stuff was available; needless to say, I adjusted my plans. Cod isn’t my favorite, but this was firm, versatile fish and we got two excellent meals from it, so I guess there will be more cod in my future.
The first recipe, Baked Fish and Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic, was from Marcella Says…, reprinted on Epicurious here. Since Marcella has never yet steered me wrong, I felt pretty confident about this one, and sure enough, it was delicious: simply roasted potatoes and crumb-topped fish all scented with fresh rosemary. I used fingerling potatoes and added in some carrots (for color, I will readily admit!), and topped the fish with fresh-frozen breadcrumbs rather than fine, dry ones. The fillets were too long for the baking dish I used, and a bit unevenly shaped, so I trimmed them to fit, and saved the excess fish (around 3/4 lb) for another meal.
That would be cod chowder with saffron and more fingerling potatoes. Despite the fact that I had to use Better Than Bouillion Clam Base in place of bottled clam juice, this soup came out nicely, very warming. I adapted it a bit from an Epicurious recipe, of which numerous reviewers claimed blandness; I consequently did a lot of tasting and adjusting, and ended up with a subtle, almost buttery broth that served the cod and potatoes well. Since my husband always wants some sort of bread to dip in his soup, I made some very quick garlic toast, and that provided an extra hit of flavor.
(Oh, and the post’s title? Whenever I see cod in the store, I start thinking about Peter Pan and Captain Hook. Can’t help it!)
Cod Chowder with Saffron and Fingerling Potatoes
2 thick-cut slices applewood bacon, diced
1 1/2 cups chopped leeks (or 2 large leeks), white and pale green parts only
3 C clam juice
1 lb fingerling or baby Dutch yellow potatoes, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1/2 C celery, diced (2 short stalks)
1/2 C water
1/2 tsp saffron threads, crumbled
2 bay leaves
1/2 C milk
1/2 C creme fraiche
1/4 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
3/4 lb cod fillets, cut into 1″ chunks
Cook bacon in heavy large pot over medium heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Add leeks to same pot. Sprinkle with salt, stir, and cook until leeks are very tender, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes. Add clam juice, potatoes, 1/2 cup water, saffron, and bay. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium and cover. Simmer until potatoes are just tender, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. (Mine simmered slowly over low heat for quite a while longer due to a phone call.)
Stir in milk, creme fraiche, and paprika. Stir in cod chunks; cover and cook until cod is opaque in center, about 10 minutes. Return reserved bacon to the pot; season chowder to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with rolls or garlic toast for dipping.
Update 2/1/09: This is one of the few soups that Jeremy actually requests. This time I didn’t have any creme fraiche, so I used whipping cream and added a few dollops of sour cream. We were missing the garlic toast, but it was still lovely, and reheats like a charm. Nolan liked it too: he ate chunks of cod, potato, and celery, and even had a few sips of the broth off my spoon.