My lover’s father, Pat, has a secret. It is one of those deep dark secrets you would never guess about him after meeting once twice even a few times.
He comes across as a man of tradition, that being the woman stays in the kitchen, while the men play golf and discuss “business”. However, he blows his cover when you get invited over to dinner. His dirty smelly sometimes slimy secret is FISH!
Pat Hatton is a man to learn from where fish is involved.
Besides have attended Darina Allens fishery courses, he also just seems to have the “knack” for cooking up a mean fish dinner. On a visit to he and Margaret’s gorgeuous Essex farm just 20 minutes from London, I asked him to show me one of his favorite dishes. He laughed and laughed some more and told me his secrets were just that. He left the kitchen still laughing under his breath.
The next day I tried again using my “throw lavish complements his way” tactic. Oh Pat, you make the best fish dishes this side of Victoria Station. Jamie Oliver? Didn’t you once teach him to cook fish?
I didn’t know fish could be so great! You get the point.
Pat did not budge. More laugther and this time he lovingly tossed the massive Darina Allen bible my way and left me in the kitchen to sulk.
My third attempt, where I used the most pathetic tactic of all, found success. I begged. He took apparent pity on me and set off to the fishmongers.
He returned with beautiful fresh Atlantic cod filets. Oh no, I thought. Please don’t tell me after all that begging that he is going to teach me to FRY fish and chips. I would have to sit through the lesson after all my begging, just to see a poor cod fried within an inch of its life in thick beer batter only then to get doused in malt vinegar.
Pat must have seen the panic in my eyes as he poured us each a glass of Sauncere, handed me an onion and a knife and said, “finely chop and drink up. Two secrets in this recipe – the caramelized onions and the white wine. Ok, I can do that.
Pat’s “now famous in my house” Cod is savory layers of flavor that each one opens to the next on your tongue. It is both hearty and light given the flavorful ingredients but I never feel too full after eating, well, alot of it!
So, here it is. Pat’s Cod. I must confess, because he did to me, that this recipe was inspired by one he learned at Darina Allen. But, he has made it his own and now you can too!
Recipe for 4
1 Sweet Yellow Onion
6 Strips Streaky Bacon
3 Lg. Tomatoes (not plum), need a more fleshy tomatoe
1 Clove Garlic
2 lbs. Fresh Cod filets, skinned
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp. fresh dill, finely chopped
3 tbsp. butter, oh yeah
1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
1 tsp. sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a skillet fry the bacon; let cool and chop into 1/2″ pieces, set aside.
In the bacon skillet add 2 tbsp. butter and the finely chopped onion. Caramelize the onions over medium heat until sweet & transluscent, set aside.
Remove tomato skins by immersing them in boiling water for one minute, let cool and remove skins. Chop the tomatoes and mix them with a teaspoon of sugar and all the fresh herbs. Set aside.
Wash the cod, pat dry with a paper towel. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil in a baking dish. Scatter the bacon and onions in the dish, then add the tomatoes and then the cod on top of all that. Season now with salt and pepper.
In a saute pan melt the other tbsp. of butter, add the bread crumbs and stir to combine. Remove from heat. Add the cheese to the crumbs and blend well.
Evenly distribute the bread crumb mixture over the cod.
Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake 30-40 minutes. Remove foil for last 10 minutes so that the breadcrumbs brown.
Garnish with fresh herbs and a sprinkle more of fresh Gruyere.
Just don’t tell my Italian relatives I put cheese on fish! Big no no.
This dish is great for a make ahead potluck supper or when feeding a larger crowd. You stick it in the oven as everyone is arriving and don’t have to worry with it until time to serve.
*Toss a nice green salad, slice some Italian bread up and open a bottle of Sauncere. Dee – lightful!
Thank you Pat! What’s next?