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Potato-Crusted Cod

This elegant dish is perfect for a dinner party or a romantic late-night supper. The very thin potato slices crisp around the fish, giving it a golden, baked crust. The potatoes themselves must be long enough to provide you with slices that can wrap around the fish fillets. Have your fishmonger remove the cod's skin. Check the flesh for bones and remove any with a pair of tweezers.

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 large baking potatoes, at least 6 inches long, preferably Russets, scrubbed
1 1/2 pounds cod fillets, skinned and cut into 4 pieces
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Instructions:

  1. Place the melted butter in a large bowl. Peel the potatoes and cut them in half lengthwise. With a vegetable peeler, thinly slice the potatoes, starting with the flat, cut side, making long paper-thin slices. Let the slices fall into the melted butter. You may also use a mandoline, fitted with the thinnest slicing blade, but you'll need to run the potatoes lengthwise over the blade, a tricky task with some mandoline grips. Toss the slices to coat with the butter.
  2. Lay an 8-inch piece of plastic wrap on the work surface. To build a bed large enough to hold a piece of cod, lay about one quarter of the potato slices on the plastic wrap in a straight row, overlapping each slice halfway with the next. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, then place a cod fillet on top. Gently fold up the ends of the slices to meet on top of the fillet; seal tightly by rolling the fillet lengthwise -- use the plastic wrap to help seal the potatoes and hold them in place. Transfer to a platter and repeat with the remaining potatoes, fillets, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate the four potato-wrapped fillets for at least 30 minutes, but not more than 6 hours.
  3. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Gently unwrap the fillets, taking care not to disturb the potato crusts.
  4. Heat a large oven-safe sauté pan or skillet (preferably nonstick) over high heat until smoking. Swirl in the oil, then add the fillets, potato seam side down. Immediately lower the heat to medium and cook 3 minutes without turning, until the potatoes brown. Carefully turn the fillets with a spatula, then place the skillet in the oven for 5 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings

Credits: From The Ultimate Potato Book by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. HarperCollins Publishers. Used by permission.
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