Crispy Polenta and Braised Swiss Chard with Cod Poached in White Wine

18 Dec

I apologize for the slow-down in posts this week.  I’m finishing up my first set of law school exams on Monday, so I’ve been preoccupied with studying and have been relying mostly on old standbys for dinners.  Thus, not too much to report.

Today, I decided to spend a little bit of time in the kitchen and wanted to make use of a wonderful present from my future sister-in-law: Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child.  It’s a book I’ve been meaning to buy for awhile now but for some reason never got around to it.  It was a perfect gift and I’ll certainly be using it as a source of inspiration and recipes for many years to come.  Thanks, Abbie!

This dish was healthy, colorful, and packed with flavor.  The instructions look like a lot of work, but it was really very easy.  Other than the cooking and chilling of the polenta, this dish came together in 25 minutes or so.  I made the polenta yesterday, so there was very little work involved in this dish today.  I loved how it had all the classic flavors of a fish fry thanks to the crispy bread-like flavors of the polenta and the bright lemon of the Swiss chard but very little of the cholesterol and fat.  Yum!

Crispy Polenta and Braised Swiss Chard with Cod Poached in White Wine

Crispy Polenta:

6 cups homemade seafood stock

2 1/2 cups polenta

2 tbs. Brummel & Brown, divided

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

3/4 cup coarsely grated very sharp cheddar

3 tbs. garlic hot sauce, divided

1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt, to taste

Non-stick cooking spray

Bring seafood stock to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low and slowly whisk in polenta.  The mixture should be relatively soupy.  Stirring occasionally, let simmer 15-20 minutes until polenta is tender and most of the stock has evaporated/been absorbed.

Add 1 tbs. Brummel & Brown, plain Greek yogurt, cheddar and 2 tbs. of hot sauce, whisking constantly.  Taste for seasoning and add kosher salt and other ingredients as necessary.

Spray a  6″ x 10″ casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray (or whatever size you prefer – the smaller the dish, the longer you will need to chill the polenta).  Pour the polenta into the dish and drizzle with remaining tbs. of hot sauce.  Let cool to room temperature.  Transfer to refrigerator and chill until set, preferably overnight but at least 6-8 hours.

In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil and remaining 1 tbs. Brummel & Brown over medium-high heat.  Add a 4″ x 4″ slice of polenta and sauté 4-5 minutes per side until light golden brown.

Place in preheated 350º oven to keep warm.  If you have a sous-chef or don’t mind a mad scramble at the end of a dish coming together, this isn’t necessary.  Simply wait until the fish is about to come out of the oven and begin to sauté polenta.

[Note: This recipe makes more polenta than you will use for the braised Swiss chard and cod poached in white wine presentation pictured above.  A few ideas for how to use the polenta before chilling include Merlot Mushrooms with Lemon Kohlrabi Greens and Polenta, Stuffed Cubanelles with Chipotle Sauce and Creamy Polenta, and Butternut Squash Polenta with Spicy Spinach and Shredded Pork.  After setting, consider Roasted Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Tomato Polenta and Eggs, and Pan Fried Polenta with Chilies, Corn, and a Fried Egg.  Simply substitute the recipe above for the recipe included and you’ll have a nice meal on your hands.]

Cod Poached in White Wine:

Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

1 tbs. green onions, whites finely minced and green ends roughly chopped, 2 tbs. green ends reserved

2 fillets Pacific cod, defrosted if frozen (thicker fillets work better for this recipe)

2 tbs. Brummel & Brown, plus more for buttering

1 cup white wine, chilled (I used pinot grigio)

3 tbs. bottled clam juice, chilled

Water (if necessary)

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°.

Butter a small  oven proof cast iron sauce pan with Brummel & Brown.  Sprinkle half of the onion whites on the bottom of the dish.  Season the fillets lightly with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper and arrange them on the bottom of the dish.  Sprinkle the fillets with remaining onions and dot with 1 tbs. Brummel & Brown.  Pour in the white wine and clam juice.  If necessary, add cold water to barely cover.

Over low heat, bring liquid to almost a simmer.  Poaching liquid should be shimmering but not simmering.  Cover sauce pan with buttered waxed paper (I used aluminum foil, which may discolor the wine, but I didn’t have waxed paper.  It turned out fine nevertheless.).  Place the sauce pan in the bottom third of preheated oven.  Poach, maintaining the liquid at a near-simmer, for 8-12 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets.  When cooked, a fork should pierce the flesh easily but the fish should not be dry or overly flaky.

[While fish is poaching, begin to sauté braised swiss chard per below.]

Carefully remove the fish from the poaching liquid and place on a covered dish to keep warm.

Remove about 1/2 cup of poaching liquid.  Place the sauce pan with remaining poaching liquid over medium-high heat and add remaining 1 tbs. Brummel & Brown.  Briskly simmer the poaching liquid until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

Braised Swiss Chard:

5-6 stems Swiss Chard, leaves removed from stems, all roughly chopped

3/4 cup reserved poaching liquid from above (can also use 1/2 cup of white wine or 1/2 cup of seafood or other stock)

3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

2 tbs. olive oil

1 lemon, juiced

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.  Add Swiss chard stems and sauté until slightly tender, roughly 3-5 minutes.  Add Swiss chard leaves and stir to coat with olive oil and disperse garlic.  Sauté 2-3 minutes until leaves are slightly wilted.  Add lemon juice and reserved poaching liquid and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low, uncovered, and cook until Swiss chard is soft and liquid has evaporated/been absorbed, about 5-8 minutes

Assembly:

2 squares crispy polenta (see above)

2 fillets cod poached in white wine (see above)

3 cups braised Swiss chard (see above)

2 tbs. green ends of green onions, reserved from above

Place square of crispy polenta on the plate.  Top with a heaping serving spoon filled with braised Swiss chard.  Top with fish.  Spoon reduced poaching liquid over fillets.  Garnish with green ends of green onions reserved from cod poached in white win

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