Monday, March 18, 2013

Fish & Chips & Chips

There was definitely a randy Irish slave owner somewhere in my family tree*, and my husband's pale-faced lineage has many an O'Brien in the not so distant past.   My kids have a disturbing overabundance of the Gift of the Blarney**, and my son did leave his recent SAT test with just one reward in mind:  A large Shamrock Shake.

The three of us that were old enough to see it thought The Guard was pure genius.

In other words, we may not have greeted the day with green bagels and beer, but there was no reason for everyone to be such a hater when I brought up the idea of making a traditional Irish dinner yesterday.

My husband:  What?  Like corned beef?  No.  No way. I draw the line at corned beef.
Me;  You draw the line at corned beef?  Since when?
My husband:  Everyone should draw the line at corned beef.  It's a given.

My son:  Hold on. What would be for dinner?
Me:  I was thinking about a nice Guiness Beef Stew.  I saw few recipes online the other day and...
My son:  Well that's just a terrible idea.  I hate stew, and you know it. Let's just go out for fish and chips.  Man, I could totally go for some fish and chips right now. That sounds amazing. And super Irish.  If you want, we could even go to a pub with Irish people in it, and get fish and chips there.  Problem solved.

In the end, I compromised***.  No corned beef. No stew.
And chips on top of the fish.
Because it's super Irish to go heavy on the potatoes.
Problem solved.

Fish & Chips & Chips

by Sharon Graves
A slightly healthier version of the traditional favorite. My picky part-Irish eaters devoured every bite. The oven fries are inspired by a recipe from Joy the Baker's awesome book, and the fish is a mix up of a great chicken dish we had at Grub Restaurant, and a halibut recipe from Whitewater Cooks at Home.  The fish is melt-in-your mouth tender on the inside, and crunchy and salty on top.  The fries are exactly as they should be.  Leave the deep-fryers to the leprechauns!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
    For the Oven Fries
    • 4 or 5 medium Yukon gold potatoes (about 2 lbs.)
    • 2 Tbs. cornstarch
    • 2 tsp. seasoned salt or grill seasoning
    • generous grind of fresh black pepper
    • 1/4 c. olive oil
    • 1 tsp. Worscestershire sauce
    • 1 tsp. kosher salt
    For the Chip-Crusted Fish
    • 2 lbs. fresh cod or halibut, cut into 8 equal sized small portions
    • 1 c. mayonnaise
    • zest and juice of 1 lime
    • 2 green onions, finely chopped
    • a few fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
    • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 2 c. potato chips, finely crushed
    For the Fries

    Preheat oven to 425. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper, and spray the paper with non-stick spray. Set those aside.

    Wash and peel the potatoes, then trim rounded edges so you have flat surfaces on all sides. Slice one direction, length-wise, to form planks about 1/3 of an inch thick, then lay the planks flat and slice again to form french fry shapes. Set aside.

    Combine cornstarch, seasoned salt or grill seasoning, and pepper in a small bowl, and set that aside, too.

    In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, regular salt, and a little more pepper. Whisk well, and then add sliced potatoes, stirring well. Toss in the cornstarch mixture, and really mix well, making sure all the fries are coated nicely. The cornstarch is the secret to getting the outside of the fries nice and crispy in the oven!

    Spread the fries out evenly between the two baking sheets, taking care that there is plenty of space in between them.

    Roast for 30-40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking time, and turning the fries over on the pans when you do the rotation so they cook on both sides. They should be deep golden brown and unbelievably tasty when they are done. Drain for a few minutes on paper towels and serve.

    For the Fish

    While the fries are in the oven, prepare the fish. I used the same oven as the fries, or you can preheat another one to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil, place a cooling rack on top, and spray the cooling rack with non-stick spray. Set all that aside.

    Rinse and dry your fish filets. If not already portioned out, cut into 8 roughly equal pieces.

    Put mayo, lime juice, lime zest, green onions and basil leaves in a small bowl or blender, and mix until completely smooth. Reserve half of the mayo to serve with the fish.

    Place the chips in a shallow pan or dish, and crush into fine flakes using the bottom of a glass or a mallet.

    Using a spoon, lightly coat the top of each piece of fish with a little of the mayo mixture. Season lightly with salt and pepper.  Using your hands, press the fish, mayo side down, into the crushed potato chips, and return to the baking rack, chip side up.

    Roast the fish for 15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and crispy, and the fish is cooked through.

    Serve with the chips, and the reserved lime-scallion mayo on the side.

    * My grandfather's last name was "Brady".
    ** Previous noted here, here, here, here, and here.
    *** Which was not very Irish of me. I should have fought for the corned beef to the bloody end, and damned the stew-hating little bastards all to hell.  Then wept into my whiskey and had another slice of the fantastic Irish Soda Bread I made for toast tomorrow morning.  Their loss, I tell you.

    Recipe here!

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