Here is another another California meets South of France dish I came up with in Tahoe last week. I used Pacific cod, which approved as an ocean-friendly choice by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch. They recommend against Atlantic cod though. If you are on the East Coast and concerned about carbon miles, then use another firm-fleshed white fish instead of cod. For example, Atlantic silver, red or offshore hake (but not white) gets the Seafood Watch OK.
I apologize to purists for my liberal usage of the term confit, but this dish basically involves in a ton of olive oil and juices that come out of the vegetables. Like the traditional notion of a confit, the fish is immersed and slowly cooked in a bunch of fat, but unlike a duck confit, this dish is meant to be eaten fresh, and not preserved for later consumption. This cooking style helps to keep the fish moist and tender. It manages to be both luxuriously rich and still light and summery at the same time.
- ~12 ounces of Pacific cod filets, about half an inch thick, rinsed with cold water and dried with paper towels
- Lots of olive oil
- 2 handfuls of new potatoes, cut into quarter-inch slices
- 1 bottle of dry rosé wine (you only need about a half cup for cooking, the rest is for drinking)
- 1 handful of smashed and peeled garlic cloves
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 handfuls of cherry/plum tomatoes
- 2 medium zuchini, cut into thin half-moons
- 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1 handful of mixed olives
- Chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to about 350 degrees F. Poach the potato slices in 1.5-2 cups of olive oil on medium-low. The point is to soften the potatoes, which take longer to cook than the rest of the ingredients, but not to brown them or to make them crunchy. When the potatoes are softened after about 8-12 minutes, removed them with a slotted spoon and spread them on the bottom of a 9 x 9 inch baking pan.
Season the cod filets with plenty of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides and layer on top of the potatoes.
In the same olive oil used to cook the potatoes, add the garlic cloves and shallot and cook over medium-low heat until the shallots are translucent. Add the zucchini, tomatoes and bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Add a splash or two of rosé wine. Cook until the tomatoes start to release their juices and soften. Add the green onions, thyme and olives. Stir over the stove for a minute or two longer, then pour the whole mixture on top of the potatoes and cod in baking dish.
Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the cod is just cooked through. Plate and serve. Soak up all sauce with plenty of crusty French bread and wash it down with a cold dry rosé.