I’m feeling kind of fancy. Cloth napkins and good silverware fancy. No special occasion though, it’s only Monday. However, this pretty plate of food demands more than our normal paper dinner napkins and everyday forks. The ingredients aren’t particularly high end (cod on a bed of red potatoes) and the preparation is pretty simple, but the flavors and presentation rival that of a fine dining restaurant.
This dish starts with the potatoes. I wish I could say I had the knife skills of a professional chef, but I don’t. Fortunately I own a mandolin, which I used to cut the potatoes into neat 1/4 inch slices. Make sure the potatoes are all about the same diameter. This will help with consistent cooking and a make for a pretty plate.
After being tossed with some olive oil, the potatoes are layered on a parchment lined baking sheet. 12 potato slices create a bed for each piece of cod – four rows of three potato slices.
Season the potatoes with salt and pepper, and bake them in a 425 degree oven for 35 minutes.
While the potatoes bake, prepare the compound butter. The butter is mixed with lemon zest, parsley, thyme and garlic. Set the butter mixture to the side and prepare the fish.
I was able to get 3 – 6 oz. fillets out of the piece of cod I purchased and was left with a long 6 oz., thin tail end, but not to worry, there’s a simple solution. Turn the fillet over, cut out a small notch and fold the fillet over to create a fourth fillet. Voila, a fourth serving. Season each piece of cod with salt and pepper.
Each piece of fish gets a dollop of butter and is spread to coat the top of the fish. As the fish cooks, the butter and herbs will baste and season the cod and potatoes.
The potatoes should be tender and crisp after their stint in the oven, but they’re not done yet.
The cod is placed on top of each potato nest along with 2 lemon slices per piece.
15 more minutes in the oven and you’re ready to impress. Use a spatula to gently lift the potatoes and fish from the pan and transfer to a plate.
Garrett called this dish a fancy fish and chips, a perfect description. The fish is flaky while the potatoes are both tender and crispy. I served this with a side of spinach sauteed with olive oil and garlic. The boys gobbled it up, all the time wondering who’s birthday or anniversary we were celebrating.
- 1 T olive oil
- 5 red skin potatoes
- salt and pepper
- 3 T unsalted butter, softened
- 2 t fresh thyme, minced
- 2 t fresh parsley, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 t grated lemon zest
- 4 – 6 oz. skinless cod fillets, 1 inch thick
- 8 lemon slices
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and move the oven rack to the middle position.
- Cut potatoes into 1/4 inch slices and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Arrange the potatoes into nests of 12 potatoes. 3 overlapping potatoes per row, 4 rows. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper. Bake potatoes for 35 minutes, until lightly browned and tender.
- While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the compound butter. In a small bowl, mix together the butter, lemon zest, garlic, thyme and parsley. Set aside.
- Prepare the fish. Season each fillet with salt and pepper. Coat each fillet with 1/4 of the compound butter. Cover and refrigerate until potatoes are done cooking.
- Once the potatoes have finished cooking, remove from oven and place one fillet on each nest of potatoes. Top each fillet with 2 slices of lemon. Return pan to oven and cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until cod is flaky.
- Use a spatula to gently transfer the potatoes and cod to individual plates.
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Menu Cookbook