Fresh, firm fleshed fish, with smoky crisp pancetta. When people writing fish recipes say this will make you think differently about fish and chips, they are talking rubbish. Fish and chips is perfect the way it is. However, this cod wrapped in pancetta dish is something else, superbly tasty, flavoursome, stylish and doable.
For the fish, we’ve said cod, but any firm-fleshed white fish will work. Pollack, hake, haddock, brill, wolf fish and others would work nicely. Whatever you can get from a sustainable source, filleted, pin boned and with the skin off (because it’s the pancetta wrapped around it which will be fried).
The sides we’ve included here are personal choice. You could pair the cod wrapped in pancetta with lentils, with polenta, mash or chips. Here we’ve gone for little roast potatoes, because who doesn’t love those? And for veg, green beans, broad beans, broccoli, peas, sprouts, they would all work. A tomato sauce, or roast tomatoes would work, as would olives, tapenade and lemon oil or lemon butter.
2 x cod fillets, pin boned, skin off
8 x rashers of pancetta (use the rashers rather than rounds)
4 x medium floury potatoes
A couple of sprigs of rosemary
A few sprigs of thyme
8 x garlic cloves
200g pitted olives
1 tbsp parsley
2 tbsp capers
4 x anchovy fillets
12 cherry tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 220℃
Peel and cut the potatoes into 2.5-3cm cubes/cuboids, and peel the garlic cloves. Boil the potatoes in salted water for 10 minutes, adding 4 peeled garlic cloves after 5 minutes to boil them for 5 minutes too.
Meanwhile, wrap each cod fillet in four rashers of pancetta. Keep in the fridge until ready to cook.
Put a couple of tablespoons of sunflower oil into a roasting dish and place in the oven to heat up the oil.
Drain the potatoes and duff them up a bit to rough up the edges. Do this gently and stop if they start to break up too much.
Carefully tip the drained potatoes into the oil and stir to coat them. Add the rosemary sprigs and half of the thyme. Place them in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, tossing half way through. When you toss them, put the garlic cloves you boiled earlier in with them.
In another roasting dish, put the tomatoes, half of the thyme, some salt and a glug of oil. Roast them for 15 minutes.
While the spuds and tomatoes roast, make the tapenade. Put the olives, parsley, capers, anchovy fillets, the juice of half a lemon, a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and your four remaining garlic cloves into a blender and pulse until broken up but not pureed. You still want some texture. Put the tapenade on one side to serve.
With around 10 minutes to go on the roasting vegetables, heat a pan over a medium heat.
Put a glug of oil in the pan and fry your cod wrapped in pancetta. Give it 5 minutes on each side, with the heat high enough for a good fry, but not so high that it burns the pancetta. If you want to enrich the dish, put in a bit of butter for the second half of the fish frying,