Friday, February 20, 2015

Merluzzo alla Siciliana~(Codfish with Black olive paste in Red potato Crust)


I set out Saturday evening to have something a little different,  something I haven't had in such a long time, a visit to Sicily.  I started thinking about those wonderful oil cured olives you could only get in Sicily.  That wonderful fresh, fish. Those fabulous capers from the sunny Island of Pantelleria, south of Sicily.   How could I get that feeling again in Tupelo, Mississippi?   I had ordered some Sicilian oil cured olives sometime ago by mail order and stuck some in the back of the refrigerator.  What a nice surprise to find them hidden in the corner, ready for me.  How could I forget such a wonderful thing?
 Olive paste requires, a few olives, some garlic, parsley and a little olive oil.  I have even made olive paste without garlic.  The best part of all  is it requires very little effort.  Spread over some  Cod fish fillets,  it adds wonderful flavor to a very bland fish.  Setting out to do the impossible, duplicating something I had long ago, seemed impossible.  I must admit, I got pretty close.  
Olive paste:
1/4 cup Sicilian oil cured olives/ pitted
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
One clove of garlic (optional)
1 cup of flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon of Capers (optional)

Into the food Processor place your  olives, olive oil, garlic, parsley and about a teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Salt is optional as the oil cured olives have some salt in them.  I always add just a little.    Pulse everything  until your parsley is processed fine.  You will have a beautiful thick paste.
Pour into a bowl and set aside

Potato crust:
5 -6 red potatoes sliced like chips.  Set your oven to 375 bake.
Place sliced potatoes into a bowl filled with water.  Set aside for 10 minutes. Your water will turn cloudy.  This means your potatoes are releasing their starch.  Drain, dry, and set aside in a bowl.  
Toss your potatoes in Olive oil, salt and pepper and place them in a hot skillet.  Place them in your oven for 15 minutes.   Your potatoes will cook and become slightly crisp.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Set your oven now to bake 400. 

In a large,  flat  oven proof skillet enough to handle your four pieces of fish,  begin to line your pan with potato slices in the shape of your fish, as if you were creating a blanket for your fish.   Lay your fish on top of each potato blanket.  Squeeze some lemon over each piece of fish.  Spread your olive paste over your fish. Cover with remaining potatoes to create your blanket.  Bake in a  400 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Turn your oven to broil for 5-7 minutes more.   Being careful not to burn your potatoes.   Codfish is quite thick and requires longer cooking time when it's inside the potato crust. 
Serve with salad and wonderful dry Pinot Grigio~ Buon Appetito

Black Cod in Tomato and Lemon Confit (Sauce)

The combination of lemon and tomatoes is just heavenly.   A delicate piece of fish like black Cod, really needs nothing but a grill or a pan.  I came across one final jar of fresh tomatoes, left from last years garden and decided to put it to good use. You will need your oven to complete the cooking process, heated and on Broil.  Just keep a watchful eye on it all.
Ingredients / 4 people
4 pieces of Black Cod or another thick meaty fish. 
3 tablespoons olive oil plus one tablespoon Vegetable oil placed in a skillet, enough to accomodate your ingredients.
3 cloves of garlic diced and place in a pan with the olive oil
2 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
A pinch of red pepper flakes
One cup of all purpose flour (spread in a plate)
One cup of dry white table wine 
12 ounces good quality, diced tomatoes and their juice
4 thin slices of lemon (washed with peel on)

Handful of parsley or basil 
Plenty of crusty bread
Place your skillet on medium heat.   Coat your fish fillets with, salt, pepper,  flour and shake off the access.  Add your olive oil and garlic and saute until fragrant.  Slip your fish fillets gently in the pan.   Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, being careful not to burn.   If things are to hot, by all means, turn your heat down and slide your pan away from the fire to let things cool down.   Carefully remove your fillets from the pan.   You should see a light golden crust.  Do not worry if some of your flour has come away from the cod.   Not going to make a bit of difference overall except to help thicken your sauce confit.  
At this time, add your cup of white wine to help loosen the bits from the pan.   Add your tomato's, juice, and slices of lemon.  Add a pinch of red pepper flakes.  Cook for about 7-8 minutes on Simmer.  You will notice the oil separating from the tomatoes and lined around the rim of the pan.  
Slip your fish fillet back in and spoon some of the sauce over the fillets.  
Place in the pre-heated/oven on Broil  (hi), for about 5-7 minutes or so, being careful not to dry out.  Check it at the 3 minute mark and spoon your sauce-confit over your fish and broil for an additional 3 minutes.  
Remove from oven, sprinkle some fresh herbs and serve.  I was very tempted to use the sauce for Pasta but sometimes good, crusty bread is all you need.  
Be sure and let rest before serving.   You can discard the lemon slices and serve this fish with fresh lemon slices.   The lemon addition, slightly sweetens the sauce.   Enjoy! Buon Appetito