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Crisp Cod with New Potatoes, Pancetta & Asparagus
Inspiration for this recipe came from a similar dish we ate at The Peat Spade Inn, in Hampshire where they had served cod with pancetta, mushrooms, and Jersey Royal potatoes, a really delicious combo. Great British Chefs has an interesting but fairly complex recipe, which had some of the key bits, cod, Jersey Royal potatoes, and samphire, but involved making a potato confit with gallons of oil.
As I don’t operate a Michelin star establishment, this is my pared down, but highly edible version. The dish is complete; you don’t need to serve anything else with it. And it looks gorgeous, an added bonus.
About the ingredients:
Potatoes – Jersey Royals (new potatoes with a creamy slightly sweet flesh) were in season so I used those, but any new potatoes, fingerlings, or small waxy potatoes are fine.
Pancetta – You really need smoked pancetta (as opposed to unsmoked) for this, and smoked bacon would work too.
Cherry tomatoes – only use if ripe and in season, else skip.
Crisp cod with New Potatoes, Pancetta and Asparagu
A winning combination of crisp cod with roasted potatoes, a hit of smokey pancetta and some greens to round if off. This is an excellent recipe to add to your repetoire and ring seasonal changes by swapping the greens for mushrooms or spinach. This dish doesn't need anything else.
Wash and dry the potatoes and cut them in half lengthwise. Prepare a baking tray with baking parchment or sheet and toss the potatoes with the oil, saffron and a salt & pepper on the tray.
Bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, until tender and browning at the edges, turning them over halfway through.
In the last 10 minutes of cooking the potatoes, add the tomatoes (seasoned and drizzled with a little olive oil) to one side of the baking tray and let them roast until the skin shrivels.
Meanwhile, heat a saucepan with just a tiny dash of oil. Add the cubed pancetta and fry gently on low to medium heat, until the fat renders and the pancetta becomes crisp. If using asparagus, chop off the woody stems, halve and add to the pancetta. (If using samphire add later as it cooks very quickly). Cover and cook for about 2 minutes before adding the samphire.
Once the samphire/asparagus are almost cooked add the white wine and lemon juice and allow it to bubble and reduce for about a minute or two.
Turn down the heat, add the cream & lemon zest, stir well and turn off the heat. Taste seasoning. Pancetta can be very salty so add salt after tasting.
For the fish:
When you are ready to serve, heat a frying pan (large enough to fit the 4 pieces of cod) and place over medium-high heat. Pat the cod very dry (especially the skin) and lightly season the skin side with salt and pepper.
Add the butter and oil to the pan. As soon as the butter stops foaming, place the fish skin side down into the pan. Season the other (flesh) side of the fish. Gently press to ensure the skin makes full contact with the pan and cook skin-side down for 2-3 minutes until the skin is golden and crispy. Turn over and cook the flesh side for another 1-2 minutes to cook the fish through.
To serve: Divide the pancetta & asparagus/samphire onto 4 serving plates. Divide the potatoes amongst the 4 plates too. Place the cod on top and spoon over any remaining sauce. Add a few roasted tomatoes and garnish with chopped chives and serve immediately.