Monday, April 18, 2011
The Good Woman's Codfish Casserole - Meatless Monday
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Here's another entrée that works well for those whose convictions lead them to avoid meat, all, or some, of the time. Variations of this casserole have been popular in port cities of the old and new world for centuries. The dish was a staple of peasant kitchens throughout Europe and could be found anywhere codfish was plentiful and good, frugal women had large families to feed. The casserole featured today can be traced to the kitchens of Marseille, where its ingredients were all available for much of the year. In France, cod, called le roi de la mer (king of the sea), was very popular and even now is the country's best selling fish. That is not surprising. The fish is lean and tender and its mild, sweet flavor is a great foil for the stronger flavors with which it is usually paired. While some chopping is involved, this is an easy entree to make and it is almost foolproof. There are, however, a couple of potential pitfalls. This dish gets its flavor and texture from celery and green olives. It is important not to overcook the celery, so it is best to follow the instructions for cooking time. It also helps to keep the celery in pieces no smaller than an inch in length. Olives vary in strength and to prevent their flavor from dominating the dish I've found it helps to quickly "blanch" them. This is done by placing them in water that is brought to a boil, then draining them before they are tossed with other ingredients in the casserole. If you have good knife skills the dish can be table ready in 45 minutes. If you are pokey, as I am, it's best to count on an hour. I serve this dish in shallow soup bowls over mounds of brown or white rice. Please remember, Atlantic cod is on Seafood Watch lists, so try to use a sustainably harvested alternative such as Pacific cod. Here's the recipe for this robust casserole.
Codfish Casserole...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by the World's Healtiest Foods
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, cut in half and sliced thick
6 cloves garlic, sliced
2 cups celery, cut diagonally about 1 inch long
1 (15- oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
3/4 cup green olives cut in fourths
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 lbs thick cod filets, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/8 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1) Heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet. Sauté onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, place olives in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and drain.
3) Add garlic and celery and sauté for another minute. Add drained diced tomatoes, green olives and broth. Stir, cover, and simmer on medium-low for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, just until celery is tender.
4) Place cod, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and chili flakes on top of celery and continue to simmer, covered, for another 5 minutes, or until fish is cooked. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve over brown or white rice. Yield: 4 servings.
Cook's Notes: Use thick cut cod filets. Thin pieces will fall apart. Make sure celery is not cut too small. It is a dominant vegetable in this recipe and should be cut into 1-inch pieces for best flavor. Depending on temperature of your stove, you may want to simmer on medium-low or low. This should be a strong bubbling of sauce without boiling. This will intensify the flavor without cooking the sauce away. If it looks like it's getting dry, reduce the heat. You want a finished dish that has sauce.
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Cod Wrapped in Crispy Potatoes - Kalofagas
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Cod Fritters - Yolanda's Cakes and More
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