Image 1 (above): Winning Cod Bake straight out of the oven.
As a mom, I’m always trying to find ways to increase the scope and depth of my kids palates, especially on the protein side. Eschewing things like chicken nuggets, even if they are delicious ones like from Bell & Evans, I look for preparations that provide a way to introduce foods without too much drama. The cod bake turned out to be one of those gems. Now, they’re open to eating fish in other contexts, having become acquainted with it within gooey, cheesy loveliness. This is a such an old recipe, it’s new again. And, yes, there are so many alternatives you can adopt like changing the fish, adding potatoes or carrots or celery, using more, less, or different cheese. Go for it!
WINNING COD BAKE
Ingredients: 2 lbs fresh/frozen cod, salted water, 3 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons flour, 2 cups unbleached flour, 1 teaspoon parsley, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, salt, pepper, 1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or parmesan)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Prepare 2 pounds Alaskan cod*: place salted water in large saucepan, enough to cover your thawed cod when added once water boils. At boil, cook cod for up to 8 minutes, or until it easily flakes when a forked is pressed to it. Then pour into metal colander to drain and fork apart into large bite-size pieces.
While water is boiling/fish is cooking, make a simple roux–> for every 1 tablespoon salted butter, add 2 tablespoons of flour, and 2/3 cup of milk (any weight). Old roux recipes use butter and flour only, with the ratio of about 1:1, with a heavier hand towards the flour (e.g., 7 oz butter, 8 oz flour).
For this recipe, I recommend 3 tablespoons butter, two cups milk, six tablespoons flour, one teaspoon minced garlic, one teaspoon parsley, salt and pepper.Melt butter with garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Add milk then whisk in flour. Keep on medium-high heat until slow boil and thickening, then turn down to simmer and stir occasionally. Don’t overcook.
[I actually only use my own freshly milled flour (will get to that later); you might use unbleached organic King Arthur’s brand or whatever good stuff you have around and NOT THE BLEACHED WHITE. That was in all caps.]
1 cup shredded cheese: cheddar or parmesan, whatever your pleasure; add more if you think it needs it.
*I usually get the cod from the Trader Joe’s freezer section.
Assemble fish, roux, and cheese into a 8″ round or square baking dish making two or three fish/roux/cheese layers. I typically do not mix this all together for fear it will get too much like a mush. Add more salt, pepper, parsley on top, if desired. Bake for 30 minutes.
Finish off the meal with a light side like sauteed kale as well as some extra crisp fruit like red grapes or grapefruit.
Image 2 (below): And, thirty minutes later, it looks like this. Awesome (except leftovers would have been nice for lunch tomorrow)!
For a grown-ups version, try Blue Talon Bistro’s (Williamsburg, VA) Brandade de Morue recipe! Fantastic as an appetizer on crostini.