It’s Friday, the weekend is upon us, and so is February for that matter. Spring is not too far off now, even if the weather here has made it seem like spring already. Today’s dinner was picked by Sean, which surprised me and made me glad. Since we started the meal plan, he has been very open to trying new things and picking out some things we have never made before, including today’s dinner. I have had fish and chips and various places, and have been disappointed many times by it. A lot of the time there is too much breading or the fish tastes too much like the oil it was cooked in and the fries are underwhelming. This recipe, from America’s Test Kitchen’s website, seems like it will be a good balance. It doesn’t have a lot of ingredients to it and seems easy to make. I’ll be using the deep fryer again for this one, but a large Dutch oven and a candy thermometer will serve you just as well.
Fish and Chips
3 pounds russet potatoes (about 4 large potatoes) peeled, ends and sides squared off, and cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch fries
3 quarts canola oil, plus 1/4 additional cup
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon baking powder 1 1/2 pounds 1-inch thick cod fillet (or other thick white fish, like haddock) cut into 8 pieces
1 1/2 cups beer (12 ounces), cold (you can use any beer here, with the exception of dark stouts and ales)
Place cut fries in a large microwaveable bowl, toss with 1/4 cup oil and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high power until the potatoes are partially translucent and pliable but still offer some resistance when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 6 to 8 minutes, tossing them with a rubber spatula halfway through the cooking time. Carefully pull back the plastic wrap from the side farthest from you and drain the potatoes into a large mesh strainer over the sink. Rinse well under cold running water. Spread the potatoes on kitchen towels and pat dry. Let rest until room temperature, at least 10 minutes and up to 1 hour.
While the fries cool, whisk flour, cornstarch, cayenne, paprika, pepper and 2 teaspoons of salt in a large mixing bowl; transfer 3.4 cup of mixture to a rimmed baking sheet. Add baking powder to the bowl and whisk to combine.
In a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, heat 2 quarts of oil over medium heat to 350 degrees. Add the fries to the hot oil and increase the heat to high. Fry, stirring with a mesh spider or slotted metal spoon, until the potatoes turn light golden and just begin to brown at the corners, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the fries to a thick paper bag or paper towels to drain.
Reduce heat to medium-high, add the remaining quart of oil, and heat the oil to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, thoroughly dry the fish with paper towels and dredge each piece in the flour mixture on the baking sheet; transfer the pieces to a wire rack, shaking off the excess flour. Add 1 1/4 cups of the beer to the flour mixture in the mixing bowl and stir until the mixture is just combined (the batter will be lumpy). Add the remaining beer as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition, until the batter falls from the whisk in a thin, steady stream and leaves a faint trail across the surface of the batter. Using tongs, dip 1 piece of fish in the batter and let the excess run off, shaking gently. Place the battered fish back onto the baking sheet with the flour mixture and turn to coat both sides. Repeat with the remaining fish, keeping the pieces in a single layer on the baking sheet.
When the oil reaches 375 degrees, increase the heat to high and add the battered fish to the oil with tongs, gently shaking off any excess flour. Fry, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer the fish to a thick paper bag or paper towels to drain. Allow the oil to return to 375 degrees.
Add all the fries back to the oil and fry until golden brown and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the fries to a fresh paper bag or paper towels to drain. Season the fries with salt to taste and serve immediately with the fish. Serve with your favorite malt vinegar and tartar sauce.
Granted, this is not the healthiest meal we have made, or the healthiest way to cook fish either, but once in a while as a treat it will be pretty good. There’s not much to cooking this one either once all the prep work is done. I think it will be a very tasty dish, just be careful deep-frying; you’ll want to use the largest Dutch oven you have for safety. Sean couldn’t really pick out a vegetable to go with this meal, but green beans were on sale at the store this morning, so that’s what were going with for tonight. I found a good recipe that braises them.
Skillet-Braised Green Beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 pound green beans, ends trimmed
3/4 cup chicken broth (I am using homemade, but low sodium store-bought is good)
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme, or 1/8 teaspoon dried
Salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shallot and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and broth. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer,stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender but still offer some resistance to the bite, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.
A simple, easy and a little different way to cook up your green beans, and you’re all set with your meal for the night. I think it will go over very well.
We laid out the meal plan for next week last night, so here it is. If you want to use the same meal planner we are using, here is a link to the print out to use:family_meal_planner. I decided to let Sean pick the whole menu for next week. He had taken a couple of cookbooks out of the school library and picked some recipes that he wanted me to try. Since he picked them out, he’ll be participating in the cooking all week as well. He read through a Chinese food cookbook and an Italian food cookbook, so this is what we came up with:
Monday: Chicken Stir Fry with White Rice
Tuesday: Rustic Vegetable and Polenta Soup (this is our meat free meal of the week)
Wednesday: Pork with Peppers and Pineapple and Fried Rice
Thursday: Shrimp with Hoisin Sauce and Rice
Friday and Saturday next week we will be in Saranac Lake to celebrate Winter Carnival, so they’ll be no meals to cook on those days. However, we are bringing up a Chicken Corn Chowder with us, so I will post that recipe next week. I think Sean made some interesting choices and it will be fun to cook with him. Tomorrow’s meal is a simple Roast Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Roasted Winter Vegetables so we can bake all in one pan and cut down on dishes for the day. Tune in tomorrow to check it out and I’ll let you know how the fish and chips went. As always, feel free to add a comment, recipe, question or just say hello! Have a great day and enjoy your Friday night.