Tuesday, June 10, 2008

sunday supper: it's baking

It was a dumb idea to make anything involving a hot oven this Sunday. It's been about 95 degrees out for the last 4 days, and while we have a reasonably powerful air conditioner, the kitchen is just far enough away that it gets rather uncomfortable in there. But I guess the upside to choosing this recipe on a hot day is that I wasn't standing over a stove. I braved the heat to put the potatoes in the oven, a second time to add the fish, a third time to take it out, done.

This is one of those brilliant recipes from my cooking bible, Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Not only has baking become my favorite way to prepare fish, but this recipe kills two birds with one stone and bakes the potatoes at the same time in the same dish. It could not be easier and tastier.

Bluefish is the star of this recipe, a juicy fish with purple flesh and a fresh, light flavor. The last time I was in Brazil - in Buzios - it seemed the Bluefish were plentiful and I pretty much ate one at the beach every day. There they simply salted and peppered it and grilled it. It was fish perfection. This comes close, topped with only parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Bluefish is the perfect fish for these simple, subtle preparations because it has a great flavor of its own.

If the potatoes aren't carb enough for you, I'm sure it would be highly enjoyable to soak up the garlicky oil with a good crusty bread. How can you argue with that? Recipe after the jump:

Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan

2 fillets bluefish, approx. 1 pound each
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Peel potatoes (if desired, I didn't), then use a mandoline or adjustable blade slicer to slice into thin disks, about the thickness of a chip. Rinse potatoes in cold water then pat dry with cloth kitchen towels or paper towels. Place the potatoes in a 9x13 baking dish. Add half of the olive oil, garlic, and parsley, salt and pepper liberally, then toss to coat the potato slices well. Spread the slices evenly on the bottom of the dish and bake for about 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, remove from oven but do not turn off the heat. Place the fish fillets on top of the potatoes skin side down. Season with salt and pepper. Mix the remaining olive oil, parsley, and garlic in a small bowl and pour evenly over the fish. Return to the oven to bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, spoon some of the oil and juices over the fish and bake for an additional 5 to 8 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

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