Happy New Year, my dear blog friends! I hope you and yours have had a healthy and happy holiday, and that you’ve eaten as well as I have since the last time I checked in. It’s been a whirlwind couple of months for me – filled with friends and frolic – but I’ve missed sharing with you what Lolita has been making and eating. I’ll start back again today with an elegant, delicious meal I’ve tried a few times before with limited success. It’s the technique really; I’d never effectively executed the pan-searing of this lovely piece of scallop-potato wrapped whitefish before, at least, not without the potato slices falling off whenever I tried to flip the fillet. But I’m not one to give up, especially on a succulent meal, and after doing a little research online about how others have made this lovely spud-swaddled delicacy successfully, I tried it again with incredible results. A crispy wrapping of thinly sliced potatoes is *exactly* what a plank of cod needs to make it something extra-special, and when served atop a bed of bacony garlic greens, it makes a perfect meal: balanced, light, and helluva tasty, yo.
Potato Wrapped Cod with Bacony Garlicky Greens
1lb cod fillet
2 slices bacon
1 large russet potato
4 cloves garlic
1 bunch lacinato kale
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons EVOO
hickory smoked garlic salt, crushed black pepper, crushed red pepper
freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 qt frying oil
(Ignore those mushrooms and that onion; I didn’t end up using them)
Fishing them out with a slotted or mesh spoon, I lay them in a single layer across some fresh paper towels (with a paper bag underneath for extra absorption) to soak up all the excess oil. This par-frying technique softens the slices by leeching off a good deal of the starch; this makes them easier to wrap around the fish.
Speaking of which: look at that beautiful thing. I asked the fishmonger at Whole Foods for this mostly uniform sized and shaped plank of cod, so I could cut it into two equally sized pieces – one for me, and one for the husbandman.
Some dear friends of mine (Hey, Montana Palmers!) sent me a lovely care packages of their homemade spices as a Christmas present, and I’ve been working them all into my recipes ever since they arrived. This hickory smoked garlic salt was just the fit for this meal. I sprinkle it, and some cracked black pepper, generously over my fish.
After laying down a large piece of plastic wrap, I assemble my slices of potatoes by overlapping them at the very edges and ends to form a “sheet” large enough to accommodate my plank of fish. It takes 8 slices for each piece.
… and place them in a hot pan in which I’ve heated my butter and EVOO to frothy and sizzling. I cook these arroser, which means I use a deep spoon (I use a miso soup spoon, actually; the flat bottom is very helpful!) to scoop up the fat from the pan and baste the tops of my fish packets while the bottoms sear on the pan’s surface. Since I have thick pieces of fresh cod, and I want to make sure any worms are safely destroyed (look it up, people – there are Lernaeocera branchialis in most fresh white fish, but cooking to 140° kills ’em good), I sear on each side – basting continuously – for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, I add my kale to the pan with the bacon and cook until slightly wilted. Then I throw in all my garlic, a few shakes of crushed red pepper, and some salt, and I stir it around really really well. I don’t want the garlic to burn or brown, but I do want it nicely heated through and thoroughly blended with the greens.
I mix a little Greek yogurt with crushed black pepper and a little lemon juice, stick that into a squeeze bottle, and use it to garnish my lovely fish. The crispy, potato exterior is the perfect compliment to the flaky fish ensconced within. The greens are perfectly wilted – still a little toothsome, but not stringy – and the abundance of garlic offsets the unctiousness of the bacon like a champ. Each bite of this meal is like warm heaven…