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Haddock Fillets with Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Onions and Pancetta


One of the best wild-caught products of the New England fishery is the simple haddock. Usually breaded and fried, and almost always used for fish and chips in the U.S. since cod has ascended to a higher price bracket, the delicate flavor and texture of this fish is easily lost due to harsh cooking methods or overpowering flavorings, so for my money, gently poaching haddock fillets in a flavorful broth is one of the best ways to enjoy this wonderful fish.

For this dish I wanted to explore the possibilities bringing wild mushrooms together with poached haddock (inspired partly by Jasper White's "Lobster and Cod Braised with Leeks and Mushrooms in a Savory Broth" in the wonderful book, Lobster at Home). The dish is really quite simple -- make a little broth and poach the fish in it --  though it does have a fairly long ingredients list and takes a little time. However, the result is, I think, fully worth the light amount of effort it takes.

Haddock Fillets with Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Onions and Pancetta

1 lb fresh haddock fillets, washed, dried and cut in pieces about 4-1/2" x 2"
3 or 4 green leek tops, washed and cut in 1" pieces
pinch saffron
2 1" pieces fresh lemon peel
1/2 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 medium carrot, chopped
1 cup wine
3 cups water
2 stalks basil with leaves
1 oz porcini mushrooms, soaked 10 minutes in hot water to cover
12 shitake mushroom caps, sliced (reserve stems for the broth)
6 oz haddock or other fish trimmings, shrimp shells, or similar
1 T tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 slice pancetta, cut in 1/4" dice
3 new onions, cut lenthwise in quarters (white and light green parts only)
6 cherry tomatoes, sliced in thirds
2 tsp fresh savory, chopped
2 T butter
fish sauce, to taste
hot sauce, to taste
salt, to taste
cooked white rice (keep hot)

Sauté the leek tops for a minute or two in a tablespoon of olive oil until they start to soften. Add the saffon, lemon peel, celery, carrot, wine, water, basil, fish trimmings (or shrimp shells), shitake stems, tomato paste and garlic. Strain the soaking liquid from the porcini mushrooms and add to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a vigorous simmer and cook 30 - 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, sauté the pancetta in a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy skillet until starting to crisp. Remove to a side plate. With the heat on high, sauté the sliced shitake caps, stirring constantly, until they start to color and give up some liquid. Remove to a side plate. Saute the porcini in the skillet -- adding oil if necessary -- for a few minutes, stirring and tossing, and remove to a side plate. With the heat on high, sear the onions until they start to caramelize and remove to a side plate. Keep the pancetta, mushrooms and onions warm while completing the dish.

Strain the broth into the skillet and bring to a vigorous simmer. Lay the fillets in the broth so they are not touching each other and place a piece of cooking parchment over them. Maintain the heat at a level that just keeps a slow bubbling going and poach for about 4 minutes. Remove to a side plate, salt lightly and keep warm.

Turn the heat to high and reduce the broth to about a cup. Stir in the butter and season to taste with the fish sauce and hot sauce. Stir in half the savory and the cherry tomato slices.

To serve, place a mound of the rice in the center of a warmed plate. Spoon sauce around it and the place the fish slices on top.  Scatter the mushrooms and tomatoes around the fish and rice and lay a few pieces of onion on top of the fish. Scatter on the remaining savory.


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Interesting and tasty looking combination!


Mmmmm, haddock. Mmmmm, pancetta. Sounds like a great combo. I make little parcels of pancetta-wrapped hake (or cod) and bake them until the pancetta is crisp and the fish just done - fabulous.

Yummy. Sounds kind of oriental.

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