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April in Paris/Cooking the Book Bonus Round, Part Deux

2012 April 18
by Gayle

Ah, a bonus/double whammy post that’s actually French! No offense, chicken cordon bleu, we still love you lots, but those flavors of Provence, le sigh….

The Good

The sauce and vegetables are great. I was tempted to get out the v-slicer when I saw “sliced thin” in the recipe but I was glad I didn’t — cut thin enough to be pliable but not see-through ribbons like a mandolin would yield and they cook up tender with just the right touch of firmness. While I completely forgot the crusty bread, the broth was so good it didn’t matter if we were sopping it up with some toasted sandwich bread or just spooning it up like soup.

It’s also quick and makes very little mess, so it’s great for a weeknight.

The Bad

This was strike two for the cod from Mr. Kitchenette, and I was admittedly “meh” about the fish, as much I liked the sauce. So much so that if we ever make this again, it will be with chicken (I’m sure it’s easily adapted for that, just brown the bird up first and go from there). From now on, cod might only be welcome in The Kitchenette beer-battered, fried and served with malt vinegar. It’s not that it tasted bad, it just didn’t bring anything and was kind of bland without something else on the fork at the same time. If you try one of the other fish listed, let me know how it goes (if I manage a solid chicken adaptation, I’ll let you know about it).

The Leftovers

The description of how the cooks at America’s Test Kitchen arrived at the final version of this recipe mentions that they tried it with actual herbs de Provence but testers found it overpowering. Being my somewhat obstinate self, if i was going to have cod Provençal, or anything else Provençal for that matter, I was going to use an authentic herb blend, damnit! So I did, 1/8 teaspoon dried instead of just thyme, and I didn’t find it overpowering in the slightest. And Mr. K didn’t say a word about it. It’s up to you, I guess.

I actually thought if anything was going to be ovepowering, it was going to be all that garlic, but it worked out well.

Skillet-Braised Cod Provençal

From Cooking for 2, 2011

Serves 2

Halibut, snapper, tilapia, bluefish, monkfish or sea bass filets are all good substitutions for the cod. Serve with a loaf of crusty bread so soak up the extra sauce.

Ingredients

2 6-ounce skinless cod fillets, 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick

salt and pepper

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving

1 fennel bulb (about 12 ounces) trimmed of stalks, cored and sliced thin

1 shallot, halved and sliced thin

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/8 teaspoon dried [I used 1/8 teaspoon dried herbs de Provence]

1 large tomato, cored and chopped medium

1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped coarse

1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth

1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Method

Pat cod dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Add fennel, shallot and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until vegetables have softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato, olives and wine and bring to a simmer.

Nestle cod into skillet and spoon some of the sauce over fish. Cover, reduce head to medium low and cook cod fillets until centers are just opaque and register 135 degrees on instant read thermometer, 8 to 10 minutes.

Transfer fish to individual plates. Stir parsley into sauce in pan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon sauce around fish and serve, passing olive oil separately.

One Response leave one →
  1. April 18, 2012

    Shave paper thin slices of raw fennel over it for crunch. It’ll also play with bouillabaisse flavors.

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