We are having some wonderful weather here — I would sign up for weather like this in Summer — and so during my lunch break I walked to the market to pick up some fresh fish for dinner, to be served outside for the first time this season. I saw some nice hake , and remembered a recipe for white fish gratin from Italian blogging friend Silva that I had noticed a few days ago. This is a variation on the classic Grigliata di Pesce alla Romagnola, fish cooked with breadcrumbs, with the addition of anchovies and capers to the crunchy topping. The fish is baked in the oven instead of broiled. I decided to cook everything in the oven, not just the fish but also the carrots, potatoes and cherry tomatoes to serve as sides. It was a wonderful meal that we enjoyed outside with a nice glass of Soave. Although it does take about an hour to prepare from start to finish due to the time needed to roast the potatoes and carrots, it is not a lot of work — and an easy clean up if you have a self-cleaning oven like I have! (I recommend everyone to get such a self-cleaning oven by the way, which cleans by heating up to about 500ºC/950ºF. After 13 years my oven still looks almost like new, even though I use it often and I’ve only used the automatic cleaning and never any chemical oven sprays and the like.)
The topping was wonderful and I will definitely make this again. Grazie, Silva! You can make this with any type of white fish. Personally I prefer hake (nasello in Italian) to cod (merluzzo) because it is more juicy and has more flavor. With the skin left on, it is easier to serve the fish fillets without breaking them. The only change that I made to Silva’s recipe is that I doubled the amount of topping and pre-mixed the topping with olive oil so it would brown more evenly. Here’s what I did…
300 grams (.66 lb) white fish fillets, such as hake or cod, preferably with skin left on
2 Tbsp dried breadcrumbs
2 anchovy fillets, minced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp capers, rinsed, dried and minced
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, or 1/4 tsp dried thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
500 grams (1.1 lbs) potatoes
300 grams (.66 lbs) baby carrots
100 grams (3.5 oz) cherry tomatoes
1 tsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
Preheat the oven to 225ºC/440ºF. Peel the carrots and the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into wedges. Make sure the carrots and potatoes are all of a similar size. Toss the potatoes and carrots with olive oil. Arrange the potatoes and carrots on a baking sheet lined with oven paper. Roast in the oven at 225ºC/440ºF for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes of roasting, take the carrots and potatoes out of the oven and lower the oven temperature to 180ºC/375ºF (fan forced). Turn the carrots and potatoes to allow them to cook evenly. Brush the cherry tomatoes with olive oil and add them to the baking sheet.
We enjoyed this with a nice glass of Soave, but many other unoaked Italian whites would work as well.
Coq au Vin is a prime example of classic French cooking. It is a lot of work, but worth it!