Friday, March 21, 2014

Here Fishy, Fishy!
What’s cooking? A Meal in Minutes: Best Broiled Fish and Roasted Fingerlings

Happy Spring!!

I don’t know about you, but Daylight Savings Time throws me completely off my internal “time to cook” clock. It’s light so late, and Austin is in the far western part of the Central Time Zone, so at 6pm, I feel like it might be time for a mid-afternoon nap. Or maybe a walk. For sure, it doesn’t feel like time to cook dinner.

On the other hand, my husband looks at the clock, and when it says 7pm, he thinks it’s time to eat. Not time to start cooking – time to eat. And because he’s generally a patient sort when it comes to my kitchen quirks, we often solve the time dilemma with something like pizza.

So we’re at that time of year – Spring Forward! – when pizza shows up really more than it should. As much as I like the many variations on toppings that can make tonight’s dinner seem completely different from last night’s, we do reach a point when I yearn for a normal meal.

Thankfully, the Kitchen Goddess has come to the rescue with a truly wonderful meal that can – literally – be accomplished from start to finish in less than an hour. And it’s Lent-friendly. (This will be #2 of my fish-Friday preparations.) The other wonderful thing about this combo is that fish and potatoes just really go together. I don’t know why, they just do. Of course, you have to start with the ingredients being already in your house. If you have to go to the grocery store at 7pm, I can’t help you.

Let me say from the get-go that I know there’s a fair amount of fat here – at least a tablespoon per person. The Kitchen Goddess loves real butter. She recently bought a couple of pounds of that Kerrygold Irish Butter – on sale at Costco over St. Paddy’s Day – which has an even higher fat content than US butters. But the rest of the meal is relatively low-calorie, and if you use butter (waaaay better than margarine) and olive oil (really good for you), you’ll just swoon at the taste this delivers. Moreover, most of the meal gets cooked in the oven, so less mess for the stovetop.

Kitchen Goddess note about fingerling potatoes: These little spuds aren’t always available, but when you see some, grab some. The skins are delicate, papery, and ultra thin – no need to peel. And the insides are creamier – also lower in starch – than any other potatoes you can find. For this recipe, I used a mix of white, deep purple, and red fingerlings, just for the color; the tastes are the same. If you can’t find fingerling potatoes, use the smallest baby red-skinned or white-skinned potatoes you can find, and cut them into pieces no bigger than your thumb.

The fish technique here is adapted from marvelous Mark Bittman’s book and app, How to Cook Everything; the fingerling recipe is adapted from Tyler Florence, whose TV show, Tyler’s Ultimate, airs at 10am eastern time on the Food Network.

Meal in Minutes: Best Broiled Fish and Roasted Fingerlings

Serves 4.

For the potatoes:
1¼ pounds fingerling potatoes, rinsed and patted dry
, skins on
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 sprigs fresh sage
3 sprigs fresh thyme
6 large cloves garlic, skins on
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

For the fish:
1½ pounds white fish fillet (cod, flounder, grouper, tilapia, haddock, etc.)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
optional garnishes: lemon wedges, parsley

Start by heating your oven to 500º. Look over your collection of fingerlings, and if any are markedly larger than the others, cut them in half. The goal is to have the potatoes all generally the same size, for roasting purposes.

Put the potatoes in a bowl, along with the olive oil and garlic, and toss to coat well. Strip the leaves from the herb stalks and toss with the potatoes and garlic. Pour all into a quarter sheet pan (any small baking pan with sides), and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Put the potatoes and garlic into the oven, and immediately turn it down to 425º. Bake for 20-25 minutes, shaking the pan about halfway through.

While the potatoes are roasting, pat the fish dry with paper towels, and set aside. Put the butter and oil into a large, cast-iron skillet or other heavy skillet that can go into the oven.

Kitchen Goddess note: If you have a green vegetable, prepare it while the potatoes are roasting.   Because I wanted these sugar snap peas crunchy, I actually sautéed them while the fish was cooking.

When the potatoes are ready (easily pierced with a fork), remove them from the oven and cover the pan with foil. While the fish is cooking, squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skins and stir it around with the potatoes.

Turn the oven to broil and move the top rack to be about 4 inches from the heat. Put the skillet with the butter and oil in the oven on that top rack until the butter is completely melted and sizzling (2-3 minutes). Remove the skillet from the oven and place the fish in it. Using a spoon, drizzle some of the melted butter/oil on top of the fish, and sprinkle with paprika and salt/pepper.

Return the skillet with the fish to the oven and broil 2 minutes for thin fillets, 3-4 minutes for thick fillets. The fish should flake easily with a fork when it’s done. Garnish if you want with lemon wedges or parsley.

* * *

And that’s all, folks. Dinner complete in less than an hour. Maybe even less than 45 minutes if you’re good. Take note that the herbs, after baking in the oil with the garlic, taste simply amazing on their own.

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