Tony writes: I don’t make fish as often as often as I should; in large part because I can’t stand fish smell in the house (seriously, it lingers, especially in the middle of the winter). But it’s mid-spring and it may not be grilling weather yet, but it is plenty warm enough to kick open the windows and renew a friendship with the fishmonger. All of which got me on this hybrid sear-braise technique. It perfectly straddles this time of year when it’s kinda cold, kinda not: a rustic but pretty fish preparation with warming Spanish flavors and an intense broth. Here’s how: – Half braised: This technique’s premise is to just “finish” rather than braise quick-cooking fillets in a broth. The goal is to get a really good sear (on one side only) to both enhance the cod’s flavor and honor its fresh, meaty texture (look for thick pieces). Then flip and transfer into a bubbling broth for a couple of minutes so the fish just cooks through and takes on some of the surrounding flavors. – 2 pots: It’s up to you whether to use the same pot (to sear and braise). With a mild fish like cod, it’s fine to do the initial sear in the same pot as the actual braise. For more fishy species (like salmon or swordfish), you’re better off using two pans. I chose to work in separate pans (conducting the 2 steps of searing the fish and making the braise simultaneously), for the sake of speed. If you do choose to make this a one-pot, sear the fish first (step #2), then reserve and start at the top.
The recipe: Serves 4
1. Make the broth: Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat for 1 min. Add 1 Tbs. olive oil and, once it’s shimmering hot, 1/2 lb chorizo (2 links, cut in 1-inch dice). Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chorizo browns, about 4 min. Add 2 garlic cloves (smashed) and cook, stirring, until they brown in places, about 1 min. Add 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme and 1/2 tsp. saffron (large pinch) and cook, stirring, for 15 seconds. Add 3 cups thinly sliced collard greens (or kale), sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and cook, stirring, until it wilts, about 2 min. Add a 14 1/2-oz can diced tomatoes (and their juices) and 3/4 cup chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the greens become tender and the saffron infuses the broth, about 15 min. 2. Meanwhile, sear the fish: Heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Sprinkle 1 1/2 lb cod (preferably thick filets, cut in 4 even pieces) with 1 tsp. kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper. Dredge in 1 cup all-purpose flour, shaking off any excess flour. Set the fish, evenly spaced in the pan and sear, undisturbed, until the fish browns and easily releases from the pan when you lift an edge, about 4 min. 3. “Braise” the cod: Transfer the cod to the broth and cook, spooning the broth over the fish, until it just cooks through (make a nick into a thicker piece with a paring knife), 5-8 min.