Roasted Cod with Tomato Pancetta "Stew"

Based on the previews for this week's Downton Abbey episode, I felt like we needed to prepare for a wedding. I'm not going to spoiler the episode for you but I will say Edith is still living the life of a middle child.

Womp womp.

I spent a lot of time searching for "the right" main course. I had visions of a seared fish for some reason and couldn't quite get that out of my head. I did some googling for "wedding halibut dish" and "Downton Wedding" and "winter wedding meal". In the true spirit of a party meal, what I ended up cooking wasn't that close to what I had planned. 

I stumbled upon a reference to a Thomas Keller seared halibut on the interwebs which prompted me to reopen one of my favorite cookbooks, Ad Hoc at Home . The asparagus tomato bacon stew seemed like a perfect base for the halibut. I can't resist bacon or San Marzano tomatoes. 

Whole Foods had some slightly different plans for us however since they were out of halibut. Cod it is my friends! Also, as you'll see they did a terrible job cutting two equal sized fillets. Clearly the guy doesn't understand the importance of a Downton Abbey dinner.

Since I had spent the previous 4 hours cooking in my kitchen between the mushroom tartlets, the chocolate cake, and a fresh batch of chorizo lentil soup for baby sister .... I was not in the mood to be cooking for much longer. So, I made a few changes to speed up the time I could spend on my couch. One of which was 86ing the asparagus. We can eat our vegetables tomorrow.

The tomato pancetta base was the perfect winter meal. I mean, amazing. The fish was only seasoned with salt and pepper so the crazy flavorful "stew" was really highlighted. It also wasn't an amazing amount of effort so I can see this being great for a crowd as well. 

Here's how it goes.

(Step 1) In a medium heat skillet, add your onion, leeks, and garlic. Saute these babes until they are a softened. 

(Step 2) Add in the canned tomatoes. The recipe I was going from referred to a 14 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes. I have only seen the 28 oz can ... and since I couldn't pass up the opportunity to use San Marzano I just used half the can and put the other half in the fridge. However, if you are cooking for more than 2 use the whole can.

(Step 3) In an effort to get a slightly more smooth consistency than chunky died tomatoes, you want to blend / food processer / immersion blend this mixture just a bit. If you use the blender or the food processer route, just remove half of the mixture to either of these methods. Pulse a few times and return to the pan. I went with the immersion blender and it honestly wasn't super successful since the mixture wasn't really liquidy. But it worked and the immersion blender is much easier to clean at the end of the day than either of the other options.

(Step 4) Add the chicken stock to the skillet and simmer on low heat. I left mine on the stove for about 45 minutes before popping it in the oven with the fish.
(Step 5) In a small casserole dish, I put the tomato mixture on the bottom and my cod fillets on top. I seasoned both sides of the fish with salt and pepper.
(Step 6) Popped these babes in the oven for 25 minutes at 375 F. 

(Step 7) During the cooking process, the tomato mixture will loose a fair amount of its liquid. So, I elected to drizzle just a bit of olive oil over the top after plating. Perfect. Oh, and a bit of shaved parm as well. 


Shopping List
2 cod fillets (6-7 oz each)
Kosher salt
Olive Oil
Pancetta
Asparagus
3 T coarsely chopped Leeks
2 T coarsely chopped onions
1 t garlic
1 14 oz San Marzano tomatoes
2 1/2 lbs asparagus
1/4 c Chicken Stock

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