Home Cooking 8

Cod casserole, kinda Catalán

Will Owen | May 30, 200802:39 PM

I have several recipes in my desktop folder for this basic dish of cod (salt or fresh) with potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and onions, both French and Spanish/Catalán versions. The difference between these is mostly seasoning, with the French ones using herbes de Provence and the Spanish ones saffron, and sometimes paprika as well. They're all dead easy, but do take some time: you cook this, then you parboil that, then you fry the fish, and then... Well, anyway, here I was last night, committed to bringing supper over to the semi-invalid in-laws at around 6:30, it was almost 5:30, and everything was still raw. Yikes! But I nailed it - here's how:

5 medium-small White Rose potatoes
5 Roma tomatoes
1 red onion
7-oz. can whole green chiles (gotta be Ortega!)
1 slice bacon
1 link Spanish chorizo, casing removed
about 1 1/2 lbs. fresh Alaskan cod
1/2 cup dry white wine
pinch of saffron
salt, pepper, olive oil

Cut the potatoes into bite-size chunks, and the fish as well. Cut up the tomatoes, the onion, the chiles as you like them. Dice the bacon, slice the chorizo into coin-sized pieces. Season the fish lightly with salt and pepper and set in a wire basket to drain. Heat the wine and put the saffron into it, and set aside.

Heat some oil and the bacon in your cookpot until the bacon is sizzling nicely. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for about five minutes, then stir in the tomatoes. Cover and cook over medium heat until the tomatoes are all soft, then raise the heat and stir in the potatoes, the chorizo and the chiles. Pour in the wine and stir in a big five-finger pinch of salt. When that comes to the boil, reduce the heat and put the lid on.

Now, what I did at this juncture was to let it simmer until it was time to leave, about twenty minutes, at which point I laid the fish over the top of the other stuff and we carted it over to the parents' place. Once there, I stirred the fish down into the stew, replaced the lid, and set it in a 350º oven for another twenty minutes or so until the potatoes were tender. We had that with a summer-squash gratin and an unsophisticated red from Papa's cellar - the infamous Two Buck Chuck, it was - and it was very good. Good enough to make me wonder about all the time I'd spent on the earlier versions...

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