The Sacred Cod of Massachusetts
The Editor’s own recipe combines traditional English ingredients to create a harmonious modern assembly. English foodways frequently preserve the distinct flavors of various ingredients rather than trying to transform them into something novel in the manner of French haute cuisine. This recipe hews to that tradition, although we have not encountered it elsewhere.
-about 2 lb cod, cut into 4 equal pieces, lightly salted and heavily peppered
-4 slices Irish bacon, trimmed and sliced into thin strips
-3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
-finely sliced chilies
-finely sliced scallions
-small head of Savoy cabbage or large bunch of Chinese cabbage
-flat parsley, stemmed and chopped
-new potatoes simmered until tender in chicken stock
- First, cook the potatoes and keep them warm.
- Steam the cabbage, or drain it and toss it with a little butter, salt and white pepper to taste.
- While the cabbage is steaming, brown the bacon strips over high heat in a nonstick skillet, stirring as needed (not too much or the bacon will not brown properly).
- Remove the bacon from the skillet, reduce heat to medium high and swirl the butter into the skillet as it bubbles.
- Place the cod in the skillet and sear for about a minute and a half: The fish should form a brown crust. If the crust darkens past bronze, reduce the heat.
- Turn the fish, add the chilies and cook until done; toss around the scallions and remove from heat.
- Place a bed of cabbage surrounded by new potatoes on each plate. Nest the cod on the cabbage and pile ¼ of the bacon onto the cod.
- Strew the chilies and scallions around the fish, sprinkle the plate with parsley and serve with hot sauce and horseradish cream.
- This is a difficult dish to prepare to the extent that you need to assemble all of its elements quickly just before service.
- You will need a good ventilation system or your house is going to smell unpleasantly of fish for some time after you cook this.
- The chilies are not particularly English. They do add a nice accent though.