My family loves cod because they like the delicate taste of white fish with large flakes and sturdy body. Unfortunately for us in the Northeast US, Atlantic Cod is on Seafood Watch list of fish to avoid. I don’t usually buy frozen fish, but I came across frozen Pacific Alaskan Cod at Trader Joe’s and wanted to try it. As I mentioned in my post Arctic Char with Basil Sauce, I try my best to buy sustainable fish when I can. Since cod is an affordable fish and works in so many different types of recipes, I was happy to consider frozen Pacific Cod as a viable option.
I also treated myself to a small tin of Spanish saffron and everyday I have dreamed about how to use it. Remembering a Spanish seafood stew, I decided to prepare the cod with Mediterranean flavors and style. Additionally, I wanted the saffron to be the primary seasoning, creating a recipe elegant enough to be served on Christmas Eve.
Tomato and saffron are a classic Mediterranean pair. Both ingredients balance each other because of the saffron’s warmth and distinct flavor cuts the acid in the tomatoes. To be honest, I love anything made with saffron but particularly enjoy tomato saffron broth with fish. The floral scent of crocus drifts up while I am cooking with saffron, and I feel like I am walking through a field of crocuses. Put these two family favorites together, and we have a special family dinner of cod braised in tomato saffron broth.
I am a big fan of using the simple technique of braising fish of which cod is very suited for. The fish is gently cooked in a broth that is also an integral part of the meal. The chunky tomatoes make the broth more substantive, while still keeping the broth bread dunking worthy. The final result is a fish dinner that is moist, delicate and multidimensional in flavor.
The total cooking time will vary depending of the thickness of the fish. Figure on the total cooking time to be anywhere from 7 to 15 minutes until done. My Pacific Cod fillets ranged in size from 5 oz to 6 oz, and was at most an inch thick. They took about 8 minutes to cook. Atlantic Cod tends to be thicker at the head end and should take longer to finish cooking. The fish is done when the meat sections gives way to the gentle pressure of your finger, and the sections begin to separate. The color of the fish will be a translucent white.
Do Ahead Tips for Cod Braised in Tomato Saffron Broth
To make life easier you can prepare the braising liquid ahead of time. About fifteen minutes before you want to eat, heat up the broth, then braise the cod. This recipe is very easy to make and flexible in design to fit into any schedule and a great meal to make for entertaining.
For those of you who like to serve fish for Christmas Eve dinner, or any special occasion, cod braised in tomato saffron broth would be a delicious treat. To send this recipe over the top, serve with saffron aioli smeared over toasted bread. Dunk the aioli smeared baguette into the broth and delight in a double saffron indulgence. Saffron aioli with cod in tomato saffron broth is out of this world delicious. Jamie Oliver has a short cut saffron aioli recipe with his Fabulous Fish Stew. It is really easy to make using store-bought mayonnaise. The instructions for the aioli saffron begin at step 2 in his recipe.
Hope everyone has a wonderful Hanukkah and a Merry Christmas. Enjoy!
Cod Braised in Tomato Saffron Broth
- 2 Tb olive oil
- 1 leek cleaned, cut in half lengthwise, then thinly sliced across the width (can substitute with 1 shallot, minced)
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 28 oz / 794 g can whole tomatoes
- 1 cup / 250 ml dry white wine
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml fish stock or clam juice
- 1/2 cup/ 125 ml juice from the can of tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 sprigs of thyme tied together
- 1/2 tea saffron thread
- 1/2 tea Kosher salt
- 1/2 tea granulated sugar optional
- 4 4-6 oz / 113 - 180 g cod fillets or other white fish fillets black sea bass or halibut
Peel the garlic then slice each clove in half lengthwise. If there is a green grem remove it. Thinly slice each half across the width. Set aside.
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large 12" saute pan, (see note.) Add the sliced leeks or minced shallots and saute until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add the the sliced garlic to the leeks and cook until it becomes fragrant, 1 minute. Do not let the garlic brown. Turn up the heat to medium high and add the tomatoes, breaking up each tomato with your fingers or a knife while you add them to the pan. Add the wine, fish stock, canned tomato liquid, bay leaf, bundled thyme sprigs, saffron and Kosher salt. Stir to mix and bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
Turn the heat down to medium and cook the sauce for about 15 minutes at a gentle simmer. Stir occasionally. Taste the sauce and correct the seasoning. If it is too acidic add the sugar and add more Kosher salt if needed.
Place the fish fillets evenly spaced in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and cover the pan with a lid. Cook the fish fillets until just done. The amount of cooking time will depend on the how thick the cod fillets are. I cooked using Pacific cod and they were thinner than Atlantic cod. The cod was just cooked at around 7 minutes. The cod is cooked through when you pres down on the thickest part of the fillet with your finger and the flakes give into the pressure and start to break apart. The flesh will have a translucent white color.
Spoon some broth in 4 large wide-mouth soup or pasta bowls. Place a fillet in each bowl with the broth. Garnish with minced fresh parsley. Serve with crusty french bread to help soak up the broth.
A sautee pan with its high sides is a perfect pan for braising fish. If you only have a skillet by all means give it a try, as long as you have a matching lid. Another option is to make the tomato saffron broth in whatever pan you have, then pour the broth into a large baking dish. Add the fish fillets and cover the fish with a sheet of parchment paper. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F / 175 degrees C / Gas Mark 4, oven for 10 minutes. Check for doneness, and, if necessary, continue cooking checking every couple of minutes until done.
© 2016 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Bob Marley’s song, One Love, is swayin’ in my head. “One Love! One Heart! Let’s get together and feel all right.” Where it came from is anybody’s guess, but I am swayin’ and singing along with Bob Marley as I write. I hear his soothing and rhythmic voice clearly which is a lot nicer than the lawn mowers and cars that can drudge on in the background for the whole day. “One love! One Heart! Let’s get together and feel all right.” If I am to get a song stuck in my head, this mantra is a good one: a reminder to give thanks.
I am working and dancing around different music genres today, looking for inspiration everywhere. Earlier I had Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite waltzing through my mind while I was editing photographs of baby turnips. It is so easy to take ordinary things for granted, but I have found since I started photographing ordinary things like turnips, I look for the extraordinary in the ordinary, and I see it within the shape, color and texture of the objects.
While I was photographing turnips, I started to admire the grace, shape and color of young turnips, and they reminded of the dancing fairies in Disney’s movie Fantasia. Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite started playing in my head along with images of dancing turnip ballerinas. Photographing baby turnips inspired fun visual imagines: my next task was to discover what delicious characteristics the humble turnip has to offer.
There is nothing sexy about turnips. Even the name is off-putting and harsh. No one is going to lean in and whisper in a sultry voice, “Would you like to taste my turnips?” Who do you think could pull that off? Before you find your way to the exit door, stop and consider giving the humble turnip a try for your next dinner idea.
Sheet Pan Dinner with Chicken, Carrots, Turnips and Tarragon
Young turnips bulbs have a smooth and pearly white flesh with fresh green leaves that have a peppery smell. If you can get turnips with their greens intact use them in your meal. Other than soup, turnips can be braised or roasted, and pair well with carrots and other root vegetables. I particularly like turnips braised in butter with leeks, carrots, and fresh tarragon.
Combining turnips with carrots and chicken makes a simple and delicious family meal, that everyone in your family will enjoy and want to come together for a weeknight dinner. The dinner preparation becomes easier when you roast all the ingredients together in one pan. Oven roasted carrots add body and extra sweetness to the baby turnips, and oomph to the chicken. This sheet pan dinner recipe will make a delicious meal and satisfy the demands of fussy eaters. There will be no disagreements at your family table when you offer everyone’s favorite pieces of chicken along with sweet roasted vegetables.
Common does not mean plain and boring. Find inspiration in all things and gather together for a delicious family dinner. One pan! One meal! Let’s eat together and feel all right.
Mediterranean Style Roast Chicken with Carrots, Turnips and Tarragon
- 1 4-5 lb 2k chicken, or already cut up (bone in, skin on) chicken pieces (See Note)
- 1 Tb minced garlic approximately 2-3 large cloves of garlic
- 1 1/2 tea Herbs de Provence
- 1 tea Kosher salt
- 1 Tb olive oil
- Fresh ground pepper (4-5 turns with the mill)
- 1 lb about 450 g baby turnips
- 1 lb about 450 g small carrots
- 8 oz about 250 g mushrooms
- 1/2 tea Kosher salt
- 4 sprigs fresh tarragon divided
- 1 Tb olive oil
- Juices from roasting chicken
- 1/2 cup 125 ml dry white wine
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup 62 - 125 ml chicken or vegetable broth (low sodium if not homemade)
For the Chicken
If you have a whole chicken, cut the chicken up into 8 pieces .
You can follow the instructions on the link or just use already cut up chicken. Once the chicken is cut up spread the pieces across the cutting board.
Sprinkle the Kosher salt evenly over the chicken pieces on both sides of the chicken.
In a large bowl, big enough to hold all the pieces of chicken, add the minced garlic, olive oil, and Herbs de Provence, and ground pepper. Stir to combine. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl with the herbs and mix the chicken with the herb mixture until the herbs are evenly coated each piece of chicken.
Cover the bowl with the herbed chicken with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours up to 24 hours.
Take the chicken out of the refrigerator 1 hour before you want to begin the cooking process. This will bring the chicken up to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 375˚ F
If you have organic turnips and carrots, examine them for bruises and dirt and determine if they need to be peeled. Peel vegetables with a vegetable peeler if needed. Cut the turnips into wedges. Cut the carrots into sections similar in length with the turnips. Cut each carrot section in half lengthwise, then cut each half into wedges similar in size to the turnips.
Clean then cut each mushroom into quarters.
Place all the vegetables in to a medium size bowl and mix them together.
Strip the leaves off each tarragon sprig. Reserve the stems and divide the tarragon leaves into two piles. Take one of the piles and bunch the tarragon leaves together into a tight pile then mince with a sharp chef knife.
Add the minced tarragon, olive oil, Kosher salt and black pepper to the bowl with the vegetables. Mix together with your clean hands until the vegetables are evenly covered with the herbs and olive oil.
Save the other pile of tarragon leaves to add when the vegetables are done. Do not mince them until just before you add them to the vegetables.
Putting it all together.
Put the chicken pieces on a large rimmed sheet pan, my pan is 12 1/2" x 17 1/2" (32 cm x 44 cm), then arrange the prepared vegetables around the chicken pieces. Add the tarragon stems with the vegetables.
Put the chicken and vegetables into the pre-heated oven and bake for 40 minutes.
If the vegetables are done before the chicken, remove the vegetables from the pan with a slotted spoon and put in a heat proof dish. Remove and discard the tarragon stems. The vegetables are done when they feel tender, but not mushy, when pierced with a fork. Mince the remaining fresh tarragon and add to the roasted vegetables.
Cook the chicken until the juices from the chicken run clear after the chicken has been pierced with a fork. (Internal temperature of the chicken should be around 165 - 170 degrees F) When the chicken is done, take the pan with the chicken out of the oven, turn on the broiler and move the rack to the upper third portion of the oven. If you have not done so already remove the vegetables from the pan before you broil the chicken. Put the pan back in the oven to broil and crisp up the chicken skin, about 5 minutes.
When the chicken is done and skin crispy, put the baking sheet across two stove burners.
Remove the chicken from the pan and place the chicken on serving plate. Add the roasted vegetables to the platter with the chicken and cover with foil to keep warm.
Turn on the two stove burners to medium and pour 1/2 cup of dry white wine into the pan with the juices. Deglaze the pan by scraping with a wooden spoon, the brown, caramelized goodness off the sides and bottom of the pan. The liquid and the motion of the wooden spoon against the sides will get the golden color and flavor off the sides of the pan and into the juices. Bring the liquid to a gentle boil and slightly reduce. Add the chicken stock and continue you stir the juices until they come to a slight boil. Taste your pan juices and add, more stock, or wine, or seasoning to suit your taste. Be careful not to over salt the pan juices.
Pour the pan juices over the roasted chicken and vegetables and serve. A simple leafy green salad is a great accompaniment.
If you have never cut up a whole chicken before and are not comfortable starting it, feel free to buy chicken already cut up. It is good to have a good sharp chef knife and kitchen scissors when you cut through bone. If you do not own them buy whatever chicken parts you and your family prefer. The cooking time in this recipe is based on chicken with the bone in and skin on the meat. Sometimes already cut up chicken breasts are particularly large. If you cut chicken breasts in half across the middle they might finish cooking before the thighs and drumsticks. The video by NY Times Cooking is very instructive about how to cut up a whole chicken. I have been cutting up chickens for years and I learned new information from it.
Feeling ambitious? Make a delicious fruit gallette for dessert. You can substitute plums for nectarines, or any seasonal fruit.
© 2016 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.