Ah the almighty codfish, the centerpiece of Portuguese (American) cuisine. The foundation of this meal was more, or less, my mom cleaning out the fridge in some ways while trying to come to a safe end to my Lenten tradition of giving up meat. This is by almost no mean a traditional Portuguese meal to the best of our knowledge, and yet, it draws strongly upon concepts she grew up with and things I’ve learned and it was fun for us to brain storm. Yes, it drew a look or two when finally presented on the plate but it was, to me, quite pleasant to share even if I didn’t do much of the cooking itself. One could easily substitute canned tuna or even crab for the sardines if that’s more your preference. We baked the fish, but I know the concept and would have personally preferred to stovetop the fish in a deep cast iron ware which I note below (should you need more detail hit me up and I’ll explain)
Red bell pepper
Sardines canned in oil
White beans (or pale kidney, cannellonies, etc)
Black and White fresh cracked pepper
lemon (zest and juice)
White wine (sparkling like Lancers preferred)
Stock (fish or veggie, chicken work too)
Preheat oven to 350 if baking (or if you are doing it in a deep cast iron skillet, have the cast iron warming for when you are going to combine for the stove simmer)
Zest the lemon into the large bowl.
Juice the lemon and reserve the juice separate.
Place the cod filets in a large baking dish with a combination of the collard leaves lining the bottom, then wine, reserved lemon juice and olive oil (1:1:2 or there about)
Finely chop half the onion and half the bell pepper, garlic, tomato, parsley and remaining flesh of the lemon.
In a large bowl place the 1/2 the white beans with the zest, add the oil from the sardines (or some olive oil if using other fish), cracked pepper and give them a light mash with your hands. Some beans should remain whole, most should appear broken, don’t over-mush them yet.
Add the chopped onion, bell pepper, garlic, parsley, tomato and lemon flesh and the sardines and lightly mix into the beans by hand.
Work in a combination of the wine, reserved lemon juice and oil (1:1:2 or there about) until you get a smooth-ish consistency in your hands.
Place the combination above in fistfulls over the fillets that were marinating and cover
Allow to bake between 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets, until they begin to flake with a fork and most of the liquid is gone.
Pull from oven and let rest covered for about five minutes to allow remaining liquid to thicken and fish to finish through.
Rice, stew style:
Chop the remaining collard greens (i prefer long leaf julienne style) .
In oil place the rest of the onion, bell pepper, garlic, tomato and collard and the rice over low heat.
In a separate pot (if possible) boil off the amount of stock per your rice (based on package, usually with brown rice it’s 1.5 liquid: 1 rice) along with the cracked pepper, paprika and cumin.
Allow the above to begin to render – till the rice become translucent, the onions and garlic begins to brown and the rest of the veggies begin to soften.
Begin to slowly add the liquid and allow it to come up to a boil and then back down to a simmer.
Once the rice is more than halfway cooked add the wine and parsley and stir lightly then add the beans and season again with reseasoning on the pepper, paprika and cumin.
Allow to then steam while maintaining a slightly liquidly texture.
Serve on a plate a leaf of collard, a large spoon of the rice mixture with the liquid and then a fillet of the cod, offset from the rice, with whatever remaining liquid of that is available to spoon over. This will serve to wilt the green and provide an edible bed for the fish and rice and if you bring the fish in the bean / sardine toppanade will make a nice setting