lemon thyme haddock

I find it so comical that people don't like to cook for themselves - and by themselves, I mean "cooking for one". Some of my most favorite meals have been cooked in small batch style. Just me trolling the internet for an idea, roaming the grocery store, and then patiently waiting until the meal is ready. 

I've always loved cooking - and while I really appreciate cooking for a few people - there is something pretty great about making something just for one. Plus for people who lack self-control (that's me), it also means I'm not constantly going back to the pot for more mac and cheese. The fact that a box of mac and cheese is supposed to serve 3 people baffles me.

This week a new grocery store opened up in Boston and you would legitimately think they were giving away free groceries it was so crowded. As a family, we love going to the grocery store - especially a new one. This was actually my second new grocery store of the week having hit up Whole Foods in the Ink Block on Monday after going to the Flower Exchange. Roche Bros Downtown isn't as exciting as Whole Foods - but it is beautiful inside, the food is bright and fresh, and people are so damn nice it hurts. Plus, majestic subway tile everywhere and $5 tulips.
So, I picked up a filet of fish, a russet potato, and lemon .... and whipped up this dinner. That's right, you probably already have everything else in your cabinet. I think people are afraid or intimidated by small batch cooking because they perceive excessive leftover groceries and half used ingredients. Guess what? you can use that half of potato the next day. It's not a big deal. Worst case scenario? You let the potato rot in the back of your refrigerator but since you only spent $7 on the entire meal it was still less than takeout.

The original posting of this recipe on Kitchn indicated they felt this would be impressive at a dinner party - and I have to agree with them. The prep is pretty easy and each little serving stays together because of the potato base - which they called "rafts". I'm not quite sure I get the raft reference but I love crispy potatoes so I love this.

Here's how it comes together. 

(Step 1) Preheat the oven to 425°F with a rack in the center position. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

(Step 2) In a bowl, toss the potatoes with the olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper until thoroughly coated. Don't freak out about mincing the garlic - just dice it up and toss it in there. When it is roasted up on the potatoes, the bigger pieces are like little presents provided you aren't breathing in anyones face later.

(Step 3) Assemble potato beds by overlapping potato slices on the prepared pan in rectangular mounds. How many slices? Use your judgement based on the size of your fish fillet. I used maybe 4 slices per row and did 3-4 rows high. Just be sure to overlap them like you are shingling a house.

(Step 4) Roast the potatoes until golden brown and beginning to crisp around the edges. This will be about 30 minutes. You may want to rotate the pan once during the cooking period. 

(Step 5) Remove the pan from the oven. Blot the fish fillets dry with a paper towel. Place the fillet centered on top of each potato bed. Top each piece of fish with 1 tablespoon butter, lemon slices, and a sprinkle of thyme. I used dried thyme and just grabbed a little pinch of it. 

(Step 6) Return the pan to the oven and roast until the fish is flaky and opaque, about 15 minutes.

(Step 7) Using a wide, metal spatula lift the entire fish/potato grouping directly onto a plate. I wanted a little extra juice to this, so I mixed up a little champagne capper vinaigrette to drizzle over the top. JUST A LITTLE - I would consider this optional. You still want those potatoes crispy of course.

(Step 8) Serve hot. Savor.

Shopping List (original recipe)
for one
1/2 medium russet potato, 1/4 inch slices
olive oil
1 clove of garlic
kosher salt
5 oz white fish fillet (I went with haddock)
1 T butter
3 slices of lemon
1 pinch of thyme
1 tsp champagne vinegar
1 T capers

for four
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes (about 2 medium), 1/4 inch slices
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced 
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 white fish fillets (5 ounces each)
4 tablespoons butter
1 lemon, thinly sliced
4 pinches of thyme
2 tablespoons capers, drained

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