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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Poached Cod with Tomato and Saffron from Bon Appetit


Eric Rippert 
Recently, Andrew and I went to hear Eric Rippert, Fish Chef Extraordinaire  and proprietor of the perennially four-starred Le Bernardin restaurant in New York.  Chef Rippert appeared at a food forum at the YMHA hosted by Adam Gopnick of The New Yorker magazine.   During the question and answer period, the chef was asked what fish he was currently enamored with.   He immediately answered Halibut and since I’d just appropriated a recipe for Halibut from Bon Appetit, off I went to shop from dinner.    When I got to the fishmonger, I was staggered to discover that Halibut was $29.99 a lb.  Now I love Chef Rippert but my love has boundaries and $29.99 a lb. for anything is one of them.  But right next to the Halibut was a beautiful white filet of Atlantic cod from Canada.  The cod came in at $10.99 a lb.  And since I also had a Cod recipe from the same Bon Appetit, I immediately shifted gears.  Since I was making only two portions of the recipe for Poached Cod with Tomato and Saffron, the 10 oz. of fish cost all of $6.85.   The whole meal would have been a spectacular bargain were it not for the Saffron, which even at Trader Joe’s prices, came in at $5.99 for a .020 oz. of the stuff.  Still, the meal was relatively inexpensive, incredibly fast to prepare and absolutely delicious.

         Eating more seafood makes infinite good sense.  Did you know that cod is one of the healthiest things on earth to eat?  In fact eating it weekly can reduce heart attack risk by 37 percent.  It is also one of the fastest ways to get dinner on the table.  Add up the times for this recipe and at the outside, you can be out of the kitchen in 25 minutes.  My favorite piece of advice from Bon Appetit is the following: “ You want to cook the cod at a lazy simmer; it will make all the difference between buttery, flaky fish and rubbery, tough fillets.” And just how long is that “lazy simmer"?  5 to 7 minutes.   Do try this dish.  There’s a lively heat to the tomato sauce that complements the flaky white fish flawlessly.   As to the saffron, I wish my palate were more sensitive to what it brings to the dish.  But since I used it and loved the results, I can’t say how it would taste without it.  But I do know it would save you at least $5.99 if you left it out. Here is the recipe:

Recipe for Poached Cod with Tomato and Saffron from Bon Appetit
Serves 4. Takes under 30 minutes start to finish.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 14.5-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained*
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 bay leaves
Pinch of saffron threads
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
4 5-ounce skinless cod fillets
*I cheated here and substituted a 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes with no apparent affect.  I also had a handful of cherry tomatoes which I halved and tossed in with their canned brethren.  
1.
Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and Aleppo pepper and cook, stirring often, until fragrant (garlic should not take on any color), about 3 minutes.

2.
Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you add them, wine, bay leaves, saffron, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until flavors meld, 5–7 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
3.
Reduce heat to medium-low; season cod with salt and pepper and place in skillet. Cover and cook at a bare simmer until cod is opaque throughout and beginning to flake, 5–7 minutes (thicker pieces will take longer to cook).

4.
Gently transfer cod to shallow bowls and spoon poaching liquid over.