Roasted Cod Fillets with Potatoes, Garlic and Olive Oil
This dish is adapted from a recipe from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Knopf, 1992). Hazan uses bluefish, which is wonderful if you can get it fresh — oilier and denser than cod, and deeply flavored. But bluefish is very seasonal and very perishable. I usually use cod because it's always in the markets and works well (taking just a little less time than bluefish, too). Grapeseed oil, though uncommon in home kitchens, is a great favorite with chefs. It has a high smoking point and a neutral flavor. If you have it, use it for this recipe. Otherwise, any of the other oils will work fine.
Makes 4 servings
1 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Black pepper, freshly ground
2 pounds thick, firm cod fillets
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Peel the potatoes, and slice them very thin, barely thicker than chips. Wash them in cold water, then pat them thoroughly dry with cloth kitchen towels.
Put all the potatoes into a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish, along with half the olive oil, half the garlic, half the parsley, several liberal pinches of salt and black pepper. Toss the potatoes 2 or 3 times to coat them well, then spread them evenly over the bottom of the dish.
Put the potatoes in the upper third of the oven and roast them for 12 to 15 minutes, until they are about half cooked.
Take out the dish, but do not turn off the oven. Put the fish fillets skin side down over the potatoes. Mix the remaining olive oil, garlic and parsley in a small bowl and pour the mixture over the fish, distributing it evenly. Sprinkle with liberal pinches of salt and black pepper. Return the dish to the oven.
After 10 minutes, take the dish out, but do not turn off the oven. Use a spoon to scoop up some of the oil at the bottom of the dish, and baste the fish with it. The potatoes at the sides of the dish will have browned while those in the center will still be moist and pale. Redistribute the potatoes with a spoon as best you can; cod fillets are pretty easy to move. Return the dish to the oven and bake for 5 to 8 more minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish fillets.
Remove the dish from the oven and allow to settle a few minutes. Serve directly from the baking dish, scraping loose all the potatoes stuck to the sides and pouring the cooking juices over each portion of fish and potatoes.
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