Thursday, 5 June 2014

Cod, Minted Pea Purée & Bacon Cream Sauce

This dish is so simple in terms of the ingredients used – cod, peas, bacon and cream, but in this recipe, everything comes together to create a dish that taste delicious and in its simple elegance is also beautiful to look at it.

There is something so summery looking about the dish and whilst light on to eat, it also manages to be satisfying at the same time. I am not a great fan of holding formal dinner parties, favouring more relaxed and convivial dining experiences, but this dish is one that would hold its own at either a formal or casual meal.

There may appear to be quite a few ingredients and a number of steps to this recipe, but I promise you that it is simple. You can make the pea purée and the bacon cream sauce in advance and keep them warm until you are ready to cook the fish. As I have noted before, many people are fearful of cooking fish, mainly because they are not confident about it. The thing about this recipe is that the fish really does need to be cooked just before serving, but it only takes a few minutes and if you use the timings that I have given; you really should have no problems.

I know that I have become a bit evangelical in advocating the eating of more fish but there are many varieties on sale, it is quick and easy to cook, is full of essential vitamins and minerals and most importantly it tastes wonderful. My children, who can be a little bit fussy about what they eat, love when I cook this recipe and often request it. Granted, they like it served with chips, but even I will admit that there is something wickedly good about dipping a tasty chip in some of the velvety pea purée.

Ingredients:

4 x 200g cod fillets (try and get good thick ones)
A little vegetable oil
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Squeeze of lemon juice
100g frozen peas, cooked in boiling water until just tender
Pea Purée:
25g butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
500g frozen peas
1 tsp sugar
100ml hot chicken stock
A handful of mint leaves
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to season
Bacon Cream Sauce:
150ml milk
8 rashers of smoky bacon sliced into ½ cm strips
6 shallots, sliced
A knob of butter
250ml fish stock (or vegetable)
100ml cream
Sprig of thyme

Method:

Pea Purée:
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and gently fry the shallot until soft but not coloured. Add the peas and sugar and pour in the stock. Bring to the boil and cook the peas are soft and tender.
2. Strain the peas and shallots, but do not discard the stock. Place the peas and shallots in a blender and add the mint and a little of the reserved stock. Blend to a purée, adding a little more of the stock if required. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Set aside and keep warm.
Bacon Cream Sauce:
3. Place the bacon and milk in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Separately melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan and gently fry the sliced shallots for about 5 minutes, but do not allow them to colour. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and add the thyme and continue to sweat gently for a further 5 minutes.
4. Add the fish stock, the cream and the bacon infused milk. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat but allow to simmer gently for 15-20 minutes. Pass through a fine sieve so that you are left with a well-flavoured bacon and shallot cream sauce. Discard the bacon, shallot and other solids. Keep the sauce warm whilst you cook the cod.
To finish:
5. Preheat oven to 200C/Fan Oven 180C/Gas Mark 6. Season the cod with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a little vegetable oil in a non-stick oven-proof frying pan and place the hot cod into the vegetable oil. Allow to cook for 1 minute and then flip the fish over. Place the frying pan into the preheated oven and allow to cook for 4-6 minutes depending on the thickness of the cod. Remove from the oven and squeeze some lemon juice over the cod.
6. Put a generous spoonful of pea purée in the centre of each serving plate. Scatter a spoonful of cooked peas on top of the purée and place a piece of cooked cod on top. Using a hand blender, froth up the bacon cream sauce and pour some on top of each piece of cod. Serve.
 
Serves 4.