Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Fat Is Flavor And Greens Are Great

It’s funny how one thing can lead to another. I know that happens in life, but it's true in recipes too. Around the same time that I reported on Jamie’s wonderful oily mix of garlic, thyme, chilies and anchovies, my friend A told me about a cooking class she went to where one of the recipes was fish POACHED in oil. Interesting.

Since I have this huge stash of Spanish olive oil, I am quite happy to find ways to use it liberally. That started me thinking about dishes whose raison d’être was the ability to be cooked (but not fried) in oil, which is basically any food on earth.

I started here – a skillet with perhaps ¼ cup of my beautiful olive oil with 2 or 3 sliced (thickly) garlic cloves, red pepper flakes and some paprika. I added some Kosher salt too.

I started that cooking on medium low to medium heat.

Before the garlic began to brown, I added some boiled potato chunks and cooked them until they began to take on some color.

I added 2 cod fillets to the top and basted them with some of the oil from the pan.

I covered the pan (hence the poaching) and left it alone for about 5 minutes over medium to medium low heat. Then I basted again and cooked it another 3 or 4 minutes.

The result: crusty potatoes, moist fish.

I served it with gorgeous red chard.

Cut the red stems away from the leaves and chop the leaves separately. Cook the stems in boiling water for 5 minutes, then add the leaves and cook them another 3 or 4 minutes. (If you’re feeding greens detractors, boiling them longer will render them more innocuous.) Sauté until hot in about 2 tablespoons of garlic and chili flake infused oil.

Here’s another variation. Use any greens you wish.

Sautéed Swiss Chard (serves 2)
1 bunch Swiss chard or a mixture of broccoli rabe, chard, escarole or kale
2 tbls. olive oil
4 garlic cloves
1 yellow pepper, sliced
½ cup raisins

Remove all heavy stems from greens. Cook greens, uncovered, in large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander. Chop into one inch pieces.

Place the oil in a large sauté pan with garlic. Heat over low heat until mixture is fragrant. Do not allow to burn. Raise heat and quickly sauté peppers until crusty and yummy. Add the raisins and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the greens with water still clinging to them. Lower heat to medium and sauté until heated through. Remove from heat. Taste for seasoning and serve at once.

To do just a plain piece of fish, cook garlic, chili flakes and some strong fresh herbs (rosemary or thyme, not parsley) in 3ish tablespoons of oil until fragrant. Add the fish, baste with the oil and cover. Cook on medium-ish or a little lower until fish is done. I’ve amended James’s old rule of 10 minutes per inch of fish to about 8. I cook salmon and tuna a little less...until medium rare in the middle.


Anonymous said...

For the boiled potatoes - how long were they boiled before you added them to the frying pan? I have a tendency to overcook them.

Sue said...

Hi Anon,
I'm so glad you asked. When cooking potatoes to be fried later, cut them in chunks (with the skin still on) and add them to cold water with salt. Bring them to the boil and cook about 20 minutes. Then I use Ina's trick of draining them in a colander and covering them with a dish towel to steam the potatoes a bit more.

I could have cooked these a bit less, so start testing with a skewer or toothpick after 18 minutes. Of course, it all has to do with how big the pieces are.

(For mashed potatoes, I peel the potatoes first, then proceed the same way.)

Emiline said...

Poaching in olive oil sounds like a great idea.

Would you try this technique with shrimp or chicken?

The fish and potatoes look delicious. And I like that the chard has raisins in it. My family wouldn't, but I do.

Sue said...

Hi Em,

I would be worried that the shrimp would overcook. But I suppose you could sauté them quickly, then turn down the heat and cover them and let them build up a bit of steam. Nah, actually, I think it WOULD overcook them.

Chicken? Why not? But for some reason that doesn't appeal to me. Any other great ideas that I can completely shoot down?

I HAVE to add raisins when I'm cooking greens. I'm just weird that way. Oh wait, I didn't add them to the Red Chard. (But those are reds not greens.)