Sautéed Cod Fillets, Lentils & a Night Off the Hooch

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This past February I was part of a weight-loss competition with some local (and very much younger) restaurant fellas. We acknowledged that we were all getting a little too “doughy” for our liking. So, with a $100 buy-in, we stripped down, weighed ourselves, and set the rules: no surgery and no bulimia. The bet was “who could lose the most weight in a month”. Winner take all. (And no, it wasn’t lost on any of us that February is the shortest month of the year). At the end of the month, we stripped down again, and had our weigh-out. Yours truly came in second with 15 lbs. lost. But, I must tip my hat to Eric and Eric (chefs at Jeffrey’s Grocery) who lost an impressive 20 lbs each.

Throughout the month, I knuckled down and made many, many sacrifices (read: NO HOOCH). This was my plan:
No dairy, no bread, no pasta, no desserts, and no alcohol. Steel cut oats for breakfast everyday, and the gym 5 days a week, where I did 45 minutes on the spinning cycle thing, and a lot of sit-ups. That was it. And I gotta say, I felt great, and looked better than ever. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t fun. And I really missed cooking with scotch…

This was one of my favorite meals that was borne out of that horrific experience. Bear in mind, I was just making up recipes that whole month with ingredients I don’t use very often (I made a whole meal out of eggplant one night!). All because I wasn’t too comfortable with dishes that didn’t involve heavy cream, roast meats, butter, mashed potatoes, and cooking hooch.

(I want to add at this point, that I am currently enjoying some Dewar’s “12 Year-Old” and making Indian food. Yes, I’m drinking and blogging about a sober meal. Yes, I can do both. Settle down)

So, start with a pound of green lentils and bring them to a boil with just enough (unsalted) water to cover ‘em by a couple inches. Cover the pot and let the lentils simmer for 45 minutes, while enjoying your, um, cooking-glass-of-water. While the lentils are simmering, finely chop up 3 cloves of garlic, and a medium-sized yellow onion, and heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil in your sautee pan (I use All-Clad’s 3 qt. Stainless Steel lidded number. If you’re interested in getting one, I recommend going on eBay where you can get brand new ones for a LOT less than in stores)

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While all the above is going on, and you’re confused by the sensation of cooking while not being buzzed, chop up some flat leaf parsley, (a vastly underrated herb…and that’s not just this Dewar’s talking) like so

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After you’ve transferred your chopped parsley to a mis en place bowl of appropriate size (I’m fan of these from Crate and Barrel, and use them all the damn time), check your onions. When they’re just taking on some color, shut them off. Meanwhile, when your lentils are done transfer them to a strainer. They should look like this

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After your lentils have finished, um, straining, and you’ve instinctively reached for that glass of scotch that isn’t anywhere to be found, transfer the lentils to the pan of onions and begin to sautee over medium-low heat. Everything’s already cooked, so you just wanna bring the flavors together…or marry them. Season well, and add a couple tablespoons of chopped parsley, and the juice of half a lemon. You can add some water if you think it’s getting too…um…water-needing (really, Rapoport?). I’m pretty certain I added a teaspoon of cumin powder here. I mean, it seems like something I would do (unlike, WRITING SHIT DOWN SO I DON’T FORGET).

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Shut the heat off your sautee pan, and cover. Now, take your cod fillet and season it well on both sides with Kosher salt & fresh cracker pepper

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Seeing that I actually took a picture of this it appears that I thought it wise to make three smaller fillets. So…um…make three smaller fillets

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Heat up another couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large non-stick pan. When the oil is shimmering carefully add the fillets. Cod isn’t the sturdiest of fish, so be careful when it’s time to turn over the fillets (after about 3-4 minutes)

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After another 4 minutes of cooking…and after you’ve done your best to fasten the broken fillets together again….the fish should be ready. To plate, simply make a bed of lentils, and lay your fillets atop ever so gently. Garnish with lemon and chopped parsely.

 

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Ingredients:

1 pound green lentils
1 medium yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
2 lemons
1 pound cod fillet (watch out for bones!)
cumin
olive oil
Kosher salt, cracked black pepper



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