Roast Fillet of Cod with a Garlic and Herb Crust

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Ingredients

  • 4 thick cod fillets, about 250 g/8 oz, skinned
  • 125 g/4 oz prosciutto, cut into batons
  • olive oil (see method)
  • 12 whole garlic cloves
  • a little milk (see method)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 15 g/½ oz butter
  • 250 g/8 oz spinach leaves

Herb Crust

  • 50 g/2 oz fresh white breadcrumbs
  • finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 large cups chopped, parsley
  • 1 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Tomato and Herb Dressing

  • 150 ml/¼ pint extra virgin olive oil
  • 25 ml/1 fl oz white wine vinegar
  • 2 fresh bay leaves, torn in half
  • a handful of fresh chives, torn
  • 2–3 parsley stalks
  • a strip of lemon zest
  • 1 red pepper, skinned, deseeded and
  • roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • teaspoons sugar
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 tomatoes, deseeded
  • 3 large sprigs of fresh basil

Method

Place the first 10 dressing ingredients into a large bowl with 8 of the tomatoes, roughly chopped. Mash roughly with a wooden spoon. Leave in the refrigerator overnight to infuse.

The next day, using a ladle, press through a coarse sieve to form a thickish dressing. Finely dice the remaining 2 tomatoes. Finely shred the basil leaves.

When ready to use, heat the dressing gently, whisking well to emulsify. Add the diced tomatoes and basil just before serving.

To make the crust, mix the breadcrumbs with the lemon zest, herbs, garlic and seasoning, then stir in the olive oil until the crumb mixture holds together.

Make horizontal slits in the cod with a sharp knife and insert a piece of prosciutto in each slit. Press the crumbs thickly and firmly on to the top of each fillet. Place, crumb-side up, in a roasting tin and drizzle with olive oil.

Roast in a preheated oven at 230°C (450°F) Gas Mark 8 for about 4–5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cod. The crust should be crisp and golden, and the fish just oozing a milky whiteness.

Blanch the garlic in milk 3 times, discarding the milk each time. Place the garlic in a small roasting pan, sprinkle with sugar and a drizzle of olive oil and roast until golden.

Heat a little butter in a pan, and quickly wilt the washed spinach. Season lightly.

To serve, set the spinach on serving plates and place the cod on top. Pour the hot dressing around and scatter over the roasted garlic.