A Wicked Scoff...Recipes and Food with Newfoundland and New England Influences.

This blog is dedicated to bring recipes, photographs, anecdotes, reviews and other insights on everything food related. As the name suggests, "A Wicked Scoff" will have a regional flare, a fusion if you will, of both Newfoundland and New England perspectives of the culinary world around me. Thanks for visiting and please come back often as updates will be frequent. Oh yeah, I also like tasting and cooking with regional beers. Expect a beer of the month, often paired with recipes.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chalet Style Chicken Soup

One of the most satisfying meals in my mind is a steaming bowl of homemade soup. It warms you up on a chilly evening and is a cure for what ails you. Good soup was part of my youth, with a mother and grandmother who made great, traditional Newfoundland soup, namely chicken and rice soup, turkey vegetable soup, pea soup, and beef and barley soup. I can't count how many times I saw Mom or Nan standing over the pot with a paring knife and an onion, slicing off small pieces and using her thumb like a cutting board. While not a technique I would use, I've seen many other Newfoundland "moms" using the same method. With results that were so good, who am I to question their technique.

After a couple weeks of disregard for what I ate and drank, or how much I exercised I really needed something nourishing and satisfying. With a lingering bout of a cold, homemade soup was the answer.

Following the wisdom of James Barber (The Urban Peasant), I used what I had available in my fridge and pantry, kept it simple, and easy! I has 3 bone in chicken breasts in my freezer, staples of onion, celery and carrot in my fridge, and medium shells (pasta) in the cupboard, so with a few other ingredients, my quick chicken soup was made. Here is my recipe, but feel free to use what you have for substitutions.

Chicken Soup

Cook in a large Dutch Oven, over high heat, 3 bone-in chicken breasts with enough water to cover (water should be about 2 inches from the top). Chop and add one small onion, 3-4 leafy parts of celery ribs, one carrot, plus 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp of salt and a few grinds of black pepper, and 1 tsp of summer savory. Once the lot comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 45 minutes.

Remove chicken and allow to cool until they can be handled with bare hands. With a slotted spoon, remove vegetables from the stock.

To the cleared stock, add:
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 3 ribs celery, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
- 3 carrots, quartered and slice thin
- 1 small turnip, diced fine
- 1 large potato, diced fine

Simmer for 15 minutes.

In meantime, remove skin and bones from chicken and dice or shred with hands into large chunks/pieces. Once veggies have cooked for 15 minutes, add chicken and add 1/3 pound of medium sized pasta shells. Cook for an additional 8-9 minutes, until pasta is al dente. Be sure not to overcook the pasta. Add a bunch of chopped flat leaf parsley for colour and to brightnen up the flavour. Taste, and adjust seasoning by adding salt and pepper.

For me , this soup was just what we needed. It was savory, rich, flavourful, and extremely satisfying...everything a good bowl of soup should be. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Newfoundland Style Chicken Breast Roll Ups

Last night I cooked what used to be a go-to meal for me, but also one I had not made as long as I could remember. In fact my wife said I'd never made it for her and we've been living together for four years now. The meal I'm referring to are chicken breast roll-ups. They're a pretty simple recipe, one I got some years ago out of the original volume of the Downhomer (now Downhome) Household Almanac and Cookbook ( http://www.shopdownhome.com/item.php?id=205). Basically that recipe called for chicken breasts pounded flat, dipped in a mixture of melted butter and Worcestershire Sauce, breaded in traditional Newfoundland savory dressing, tucked into a roll, and baked. These are quite tasty, and I especially loved them served with scalloped potatoes.

For some reason yesterday afternoon, this recipe popped into my head, and when I got home from work I was anxious to give it a try...but this time with a little twist. One thing I wanted to do was make use of things I already had on hand, for both the chicken roll-ups and for the side dishes. For the chicken, I knew I wanted to use savory, and I also knew I wanted to spice up the marinade. I had some fresh broccoli, as well as a large sweet potato and some Yukon gold spuds in the pantry. I also wanted to play along with the traditional savory dressing. I love using panko, but I felt that all Panko wasn't what I wanted, so I made fresh bread crumbs as well, out of some country potato bread I had left from this past weekend (I now refer to potato bread as the "where have you been all my life" bread..well I say the same thing about sourdough too). Lastly, I had some artisan cheeses leftover from a party this weekend and I snuck (to sneak) a piece of Gruyere into each roll-up. Anyways...here's what I came up with.

Chicken Roll-Ups

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, pounded to about a 1/2 or 3/4 inch thick

In a bowl or Pyrex dish combine the following
- 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Tbsp Italian Salad Dressing
- 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 Tbsp White Wine
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- a dash of salt and pepper

Add the chicken breasts in the marinade and leave for about an hour.

For the breadcrumb dressing/coating, combine
-1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 Tbsp dried summer savory, rubbed in the palm of your hand
- 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced
- 1/2 tsp of fresh black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease and Pyrex dish large enough to hold 4 roll-ups.

One at a time, dredge the chicken breasts in the breadcrumb mixture. Try and get an even coast but some bare batches are fine. Lay a slice of cheese in the middle and roll up the breast. Lay seam side down in the dish and press some more of the breadcrumbs onto the top so that it has a complete crust. Repeat for the other three chicken breasts. Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until internal temperature is 160 degrees and inner juices run clear.

Sweet Potato and Gold Potato Dollar Chips

For the spuds, I pealed 1 large sweet potato and 3 large Yukon Gold's, which gave me about an even number of chips. I sliced the spuds into thick round chips (think thick potato chips) that were about a 1/4 to a 1/3 of an inch thick. I call these dollar chips, and I've heard that around Newfoundland. I'm not sure what they're called elsewhere (these are also some good pan fried in shortening in a cast iron pan...that's the way Mom used to cook them for me for a nice treat when I'd come home for lunch from school some days). After soaking in water for a bit, I drained them and added a few "glugs" of vegetable oil, and seasoned them with 1 Tbsp of savory (I wanted to bring the savory into a couple of elements of the dish), 1 tsp of garlic powder, and salt and pepper.

To cook the potatoes I separated them onto their own baking sheet since the sweet potatoes cook quicker. I set them into the oven while I was prepping the chicken breast, and I hauled the sweet potatoes out after about 10-12 minutes, gave them a flip, and let them rest on the stove top. Once the chicken was done I popped them in for another few minutes to brown the other side. The Yukon Golds took almost as long as the chicken.

This was a super easy, and delicious meal! I got back to my roots and held true to my philosophy of keeping it simple, using what you have, seasoning it well and making it tasty!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Lasagna is as Italian as it gets, and here in North America is has to be one of the most popular comfort foods among the masses. With popularity however come variety, and the Internet is overwhelmed with variations from all over on how one can create this dish consisting of pasta, sauce and cheese.

To me, there are many ways to make an excellent lasagna, but for me personally there are a few key things I want mine to consist of. I like a rich, flavorful and meaty tomato based sauce, I like a layer of ricotta cheese blended with spinach, garlic and parmasan cheese, and of course there has to me lots of gooey, mozzarella on top.
Some lasagna recipes can be very complex with three sauces and two different cheese blends. For this recipe I use just one sauce (a meat sauce...although you can use whichever favorite tomato based sauce you like), a simple ricotta cheese mixture featuring spinach and artichokes (think hot spinach artichoke dip), and I finish it off with grated mozzarella.


Tomato Based Sauce: Check out my recipes for my family's meat saucebolognese or simple marinara.

Ricotta Mixture:

  • 24 ounce tub whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1  package of chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 can artichokes, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • fresh chopped parsley (and other Italian herbs of choice)
  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp each of salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well until evenly distributed. Reserve for layering in the lasagna.


  • Ricotta filling
  • Tomato or meat sauce
  • lasagna pasta, cooked
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (or other hard Italian cheese), grated
  • fresh chopped parsley

If you don't have the tomato sauce made ahead of time, do that first as it is the most time consuming. The next step is to bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the lasagna pasta just to al dente, according to package direction (I find 1 standard size package is more than enough, but I usually cook it all and let my pup enjoy the leftover pasta).While the pasta is cooking prepare the ricotta mixture. It's pretty simply to bring together. One of the most important things to do is insure the thawed spinach is squeezed of all its water as you don't want a watery filling. 

Once the pasta is cooked and cooled enough to handle, begin assembling your pasta. Preheat the oven to 375 and get a large casserole pan (approximately 9x13 inches or similar are typical). Ladle in a little red sauce, about 1.5- 2 cups to cover the bottom of the pan and then add a layer of lasagna noodles.Next add a thick layer of red sauce (about 3 cups) and a 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, followed by a second layer of pasta. Next add the entire ricotta mixture and a third layer of pasta. Repeat with another thick layer of red sauce and the remaining parmesan cheese. Lastly, add the forth layer of pasta followed by a thin layer of red sauce and the 2 cups of mozzarella cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for another 15 minutes is until the top is browned and bubbly. Serve with a nice green salad, garlic bread and a good red wine.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Jiggs Dinner

Here is one of A Wicked Scoff's first blog posts, and it is the second most popular among visitors to this blog. While I promise I have many new fall recipes and photos to share, I hope this recipe rewind will tide you over until I get some new posts completed. Thanks for stopping by.

This wouldn't be much of a blog on Newfoundland and New England cuisine if I didn't dedicate a couple of entries to Jiggs Dinner, New England Boiled Dinner or whatever it is you call your salty cured meat boiled along side a crop of winter vegetables.

Here it is, well Part I at least. For this post I'll talk a little about these classic regional dishes, notably the different names given to each, as well as the differences in their ingredients and preparation. Both dishes are a derivative of "Corned Beef and Cabbage", a dish associated with Ireland. While New England Boiled Dinner has not wavered much from the original, Newfoundland's version, faithfully called Jiggs Dinner, is a little more unique.

It is generally agreed these days that the name Jiggs Dinner, referring to the common Newfoundland meal of salt beef (or salt pork spare ribs), boiled vegetables and steamed pudding got its name from the popular comic strip "Bringing Up Father", which began back in the early 1900s. In that comic, the main character was an Irish lad named Jiggs, whose favorite meal was corned beef and cabbage. While the Newfoundland version does not have corned beef, but instead uses a fattier cut of trimmed naval beef (cured), the similarities were obviously close enough that the label of Jiggs Dinner stuck somewhere along the way and became entrenched in Newfoundland food lore.

Besides being called Jiggs Dinner, Newfoundlander's also call this dish consisting of salt meat, cabbage, potatoes, carrot, yellow turnip (actually rutabaga) turnip greens, and pudding (yellow split pea is most common, but a blueberry or figgy duff is also traditional), boiled dinner, and salt meat dinner. For my family, and like many other from across the province, this meal was often accompanied with a roasted piece of meat (chicken stuffed with savory and onion dressing, roasted pork or roast beef) and served on Sunday's...every Sunday! Traditional condiments for the meal include mustard pickles and pickled beets. For this meal of the extra fresh meat and delicious gravy, the term Jiggs Dinners may be dropped and replaced by "cooked dinner" or "Sunday Dinner". Finally, it is quite important to cook plenty so there are ample leftovers for hash on Monday! Somewhere along the way in history, Newfoundland became associated with the fatty cut of trimmed naval beef we know as "salt meat" instead of the leaner and meatier corned beef. It probably had much to do with price and the relationship between what merchants made available to Newfoundland outport fisherman and also to what would last the longest in the brine. Most Newfoundlander's though do not seem to mind and are "salt beef junkies" through and through.

Moving south to New England, or "the Boston States" as often refereed to back in the day by Newfoundlanders and Maritimers alike, the traditional boiled dinner consists of corned beef (usually brisket, either a flat cut or point cut piece, but also a cut of round) and many of the same winter vegetables, notably cabbage, potatoes, carrots, turnip, parsnips and beets. What we don't see are the use of steamed puddings, roasted meat and gravy does not get paired with the meal, and a new range of condiments are used to accompany the meal.

Here is a comparison breakdown:
Newfoundland Jiggs Dinner .............. New England Boiled Dinner


Salt Beef (trimmed naval beef) .....................Corned Beef
or Salt Pork Spare Ribs ..................................(flat cut/point cut brisket/round)


Cabbage ..........................................................Cabbage
Potatoes (often blue spuds) .........................Potatoes
Carrot.............................................................. Carrot
Rutabaga .........................................................Turnip
Turnip (Rutabaga) Greens ...........................Parsnip
Onion ...............................................................Onion
...........................................................................Brussel Sprouts

Side Dishes

Pease Pudding (Yellow Split Peas)
Figgy Duff
Blueberry Duff
Bread Pudding
Potato Cakes with salt pork belly
Roast of chicken, pork or beef
Savory Dressing


Pickled Beets ....................................................Grainy Mustard
Mustard Pickles ...............................................Mustard Pickles
Gravy ................................................................Vinegar

So there it is, the differences between Jiggs Dinner and New England Boiled Dinner. This past Sunday I made my own version of these dishes, a bit of a fusion between the two. I have fallen in love with corned beef. While I've always loved the flavor salt beef put on this meal, I've always thought it to be too fatty and not meaty enough for my taste. Corned beef fits the bill and makes for some awesome hash, not to mention Reuben sandwiches.

Jiggs Dinner and Corned Beef and Cabbage. Since I love roasted meat and gravy, I always include it when I make this meal. This past weekend it was a whole roasted chicken, minus the stuffing (I had a lot going on, plus I ran out of savory at my in-laws house). I trussed the chicken, seasoned it entirely with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted it uncovered with one chopped onion for about 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees, basting every 10 minutes for the last 30 minutes of cooking. At the end I sprinkled a little fresh rosemary from my herb garden. Besides the wonderful taste of the roasted meat, and the bonus of rich tasty gravy, the addition of a roast allows the corned beef to go farther, thus leaving some for leftovers.

With that being said I also cooked a corned beef brisket (flat cut). I purchased a 4 lb brisket and cooked it on a low simmer for 3 hours. I place the corned beef in a large stock pot and cover it with water. I watch it for the first 10 minutes or so to get the simmer just right. A rolling boil will not do any kindness to the corned beef. Low and slow is the way to go for this cut of meat. Once I had it just right, I went off for a 90 minute bike ride and came back in time to pop the chicken in the oven and start my veggies.

While I often make pease pudding (yellow split peas are easy to find here, and I have a couple of pudding bags), I opted out this time. My loss I know! What I did do was cook rutabaga for a mashed rutabaga side dish, carrots, new baby white and red potatoes, cabbage, and some onions. When my mom makes Sunday Dinner, she has a time chart of when everything goes in the pot as for it all to be ready at the same time. This method is so affective that even my father is able to cook this meal from start to finish all by himself, as long as he follows the directions EXACTLY. He is culinaryly challenged to say the least! For me however, I do things a little differently. I don't enjoy the "rush" of having everything ready at the same time. I like to get the turnip/rutabaga done a bit early so I can get em mashed up and put aside in a covered casserole dish. I also like to get the roast/chicken done a bit early so: A) I can turn the oven to low; B) I can let the meat rest before slicing; and C) so I can spend quality time making some really good gravy. Not only does cooking a few things early cause less mayhem at the end, it also assures that your veggies don't get horribly overcooked and fall apart. Here's how I do the veggies and gravy, one by one:

Mashed Turnip/Rutabaga

For the rutabaga, I cook them in a second stock pot. I add some tap water and a number of ladle fulls of the stock from the corned beef. To prep the rutabaga, using a heavy chefs knife I cut it in half, and then lay each half on the flat side and cut 1/2 inch thick half moon shaped slices. I then peel on the rind and that's it. I drop the rutabaga in the pot, bring it to a boil, and reduce the heat to simmer. At this time, I also add two yellow onions, peeled and halved. The onions makes a nice addition to the meal.

The rutabagas will take some time, up to 30 minutes. Check then regularly with a fork until done. I add them to a casserole dish, with a tsp of fresh cracked black pepper, 2 Tbsp of butter, and mash them until well incorporated. Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve. Then top with fresh parsley.

Potatoes and Carrots

This is the easiest part of the meal. For the carrots I just peel'em, cut them in half, and cut the thick part in half again, so they are all about the same size. For the new baby potatoes, I just give them a wash under cold water. The carrots and spuds get added to the pot of turnip/rutabaga and will take about 20 minutes. Check them with a fork and once tender, put them on a platter and keep in the warm oven.


Well maybe the cabbage is the easiest part. All you have to do is quarter it and give it a wash. I cook it directly with the corned beef. The New England recipes seem to call for a quick 10 minute cooking time, while I've seen recipes for Jigs where the cabbage is the first vegetable added. I like to go in between, and give the cabbage about 25 minutes, so it is tender, but not falling apart too much.

Chicken and Gravy

As I already mentioned, it's a good idea to have the chicken finished a bit early. Once it is done (use a thermometer if you are not sure...160 in the breast, 175 in the thigh) and transfer to a platter, and keep warm in the oven. The rich chicken drippings, and the chopped onion make a great base. I add 4-5 cups of pot liquor (stock) from the corned beef and some water or canned chicken broth, depending on how much I need to make. I place the roasting pan on the stove top over a medium-high heat. Using a wooden spatula or whisk I scrape all the browned bits away from the pan, as this adds major flavor to the gravy. To thicken the gravy, I use a combination of flour and corn starch. I add 2 heaping Tbsp of each to a small mason jar and add a little water. Give it a good shake as to make it lump free and you have a "slurry" that will thicken your gravy. Once the gravy liquid is at a rolling boil, begin whisking in the slurry, until it reaches desired thickness. Reduce heat to low and add gravy browning to get the color right. Taste for salt and pepper. The key here is to let the gravy cook on low for about 10 minutes. This cooks off any of the raw flour taste and lets the flavors meld. and the thickness to get just right.
All in all this meal was a huge success. My in laws love it, and they're glad they have the opportunity to having such a feast on more than St. Patrick's Day. For me, this is a part of who I am. Jiggs Dinner or Sunday Dinner is a profound element of Newfoundland culture and food lore. This is my way of making a connection of where I come from through the food I eat, and a way to have one of my favorite meals a little more often.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Recipe Rewind...Newfoundland Split Pea Soup

The Wicked Bodhran Master himself Sean McCann
shares a few tips with the Wicked Newfoundlander before a
show at the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA Oct 3, 2011.

Earlier this week I met some of Newfoundland's finest musical talent all the way down here in the Boston States. Sean McCann of Great Big Sea fame has embarked on on a small US tour with his band The Committed featuring great fiddler Kelly Russel and guitarist Craig Young. In addition to being an excellent singer, guitar player and song writer, Sean is a master of the Irish drum the bodhran, and I was fortunate enough to win a meet and greet contest with Sean as well as a free bodhran lesson before the show. I've been playing the bodhram for a couple year now but still have much to learn. thanks to Sean I've picked up some excellent tips that I'll be putting to practice. Besides the lesson and meet and greet, the concert was outstanding. We had front row seats and the boys rocked out with songs off Sean's latest CD Son of a Sailor, some tunes from his debut CD Lullabies for Bloodshot Eyes, in addition to a couple recognizable Great Big Sea shanties, an original song by Craig and some traditional Newfoundland jigs and reels from Kelly. We were left wanting more and are looking forward to the next time they're down in this neck of the woods. For a taste of the music check out Great Big Sean and do yourself a favor and buy the CDs. They are wicked good!

As a little tribute to my recent encounter with Sean McCann and the Committed here's a recipe repeat for a traditional Newfoundland soup. An old Newfoundland celebrity cookbook of mine featured a recipe for Sean's pea Soup and Doughboys, so like a good Newfoundland gaffer such as himself I'm sure he enjoys a feed of pea soup whenever he's back on the north shores of Conception Bay where the winds can blow right through you. Enjoy again.

I doubt if there is a single grandmother in Newfoundland, or "nan" as we like to call them, that doesn't make the best pot of pea soup. This traditional French-Canadian habitant pea soup, made with yellow split peas, a left over ham bone and some vegetables has been a staple for families both in Newfoundland and New England. The recipes I've seen from both regions are nearly identical, with yellow split peas, a meaty leftover ham bone or salt meat or salt pork if you don't have one, and then roots veggies such as onion, carrot, celery, turnip and potatoes. In Newfoundland it's traditional to serve "doughboys" with pea soup, a simple dumpling made with flour, baking powder, salt and water or milk, which are steamed atop the soup just before serving.

Last week I had a craving for peas soup, something I refused to eat as a kid because of the smell. For the most part I followed the recipe in Book 9 of Traditional Recipes of Atlantic Canada, however I made a few changes.

Unfortunately I did not have a meaty ham bone What I did have at my grocery store however were smoked ham hocks, which are almost just as good. I also avoided soaking the peas and I added more water. I have never found that soaking the peas overnight saves any noticeable difference in cooking time. Plus I found that using 8 cups of water means I have to add more. Lastly, instead of the 2 cups of peas in the book recipe, I added 1 pound, which happens to be one bag. I didn't measure it but it's not too far off 2 cups. Lastly, I love savory, and I added some of it near the end. I also saw savory in a traditional New England version of this soup. We're not so different you know. Here's how I put it all together.

In a large, enamel coated cast iron Dutch oven, add:
- 12 cups (3 quarts) cold water
- 2 smoked ham hocks (or 1 large meaty ham bone)
- 2 bay leaves
- bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour

Meanwhile pick through (for stones) and risne:
- 1 pound of yellow split peas

After the ham hocks/bone have cooked for one hour, add the peas, stir and simmer for another 1 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile prep your veggies:
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 carrots, dices
- 3 stalks celery, sliced
- 1/2 a large rutabaga/turnip, small dice
- 2 large russet potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks

Add the vegetables and 1 tsp of dried savory (rubbed between your fingers), and cook until the vegetables are tender and the soup has thickened. Taste and season with salt and black pepper.

For an extra treat make some doughboys and serve hot on a cold winter night!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cod Tongues and Tarter Sauce

There are so many things to enjoy when I go back home to Newfoundland. From spending time with family and friends, hiking along the rugged coast, and taking in live music in St. John's, and one of the things I look most forward to is getting out in boat to catch a few cod. As luck would have it this year, our vacation was well timed with Newfoundland's recreation cod fishery. Thanks to my cousin Tony who has a boat and a love for out on the water,  mom, my wife and myself had a morning out fishing in Trinity Bay. While the fishing was slow at first, and the skies threatened to rain much of the morning, we eventually found the fish and had no trouble getting our quota of 15 beautiful cod. I myself was extra lucky having pulled up the biggest catch of the day, a 17-pounder. While the sport of cod fishing is fun, that's no the main reason I do it and look forward to it however...it's all about the fish!

There is nothing like eating fish "straight out of the water" as we like to say in Newfoundland. Eating fresh cod, that just a few hours before they hit your plate were swimming around at the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean, is a special treat. For many years all Newfoundlander's likely took that for granted, but since the moratorium on the Atlantic Cod fishery, which was mandated by the federal government in 1993, we certainly cherish the opportunities to eat this wonderful fish these days. So, tradition in our house is to have a wicked big feed of pan fried cod when I'm home for vacation. While the fish fillets get the star treatment for this meal, it's the appetizer of fried cod tongues that I look forward to most.

For those of you who do not know, cod tongues are not actually tongues, but a small muscle from the neck of the fish, which is succulent and it has a different texture than the fillets. It also has a little cartilage like material through the middle, which melts tender while cooking if the tongues are not too large. To me, they taste like the ocean, a little briney, sweet and juicy. The best thing I can compare them too are fried oysters or whole belly clams. What ever the case, they're some good. In Newfoundland the traditional way to cook them is to bread them lightly in seasoned flour and pan fry them in fat rendered from salt pork. I stayed pretty close to tradition for mine, and also made a tangy tarter sauce for dipping them in.

Fried Cod Tongues

  • 2 lbs fresh cod tongues, washed and dried
  • 1 cup flour, season with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 4 ounces of salt pork cut into small 1/4 inch cubes (scrunchins)
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil 

Wash the cod tongues and dry with paper towels. Toss in the seasoned flour until lightly coated. Cook the salt pork in a skillet over a medium until the pork pieces are crispy and have released or rendered their fat. Add the vegetable oil to the skillet. Fry the cod tongues over medium-high heat until crispy and golden brown on each side. Eat them plain or dip them in this simple, tangy tarter sauce.

Tarter Sauce

In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of salad dressing (such as Miracle Whip), 3 Tbsp of sweet pickle relish, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cod Au Gratin Recipe

There is a school of thought in the culinary world that pairing seafood and cheese is somewhat of a no-no. This is especially true in Italian cuisine as it relates to seafood pasta and cheese. For people who turn their nose up to seafood and cheese, they have probably never enjoyed rich lobster mac-n-cheese, a warm cheesy tuna melt, seafood pizza or my favorite cod au gratin. Growing up in Newfoundland where fresh or frozen cod fish was always close at hand, this rich, cheesy casserole of cod, white sauce, cheddar cheese and bread crumbs was a staple. With that being said, there are variations on how people make it, namely the ratio of butter, flour and milk in the white sauce, how the dish gets layered and whether or not to add onion.After much experimenting over the years and tasting some not so successful versions of this classic meal, here is A Wicked Scoff's version of cod au gratin.

Cod au Gratin.(serves 4 as a main course)

  • 2 lbs cod fillet (you can use haddock, sole or other white fish)
  • 1/4 cup butter, plus 1 TBSP
  • 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups sharp or old cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 strong aged cheese such as Parmesan of Pada Gradano, grated 
  • 1 cup Panko-style bread crumbs (lemon pepper flavor if available, if not add lemon zest or lemon pepper)
  • 1 tsp dried summer savory, rubbed
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a microwave safe bowl, combine the minced onion with 1 tablespoon of butter and cook on high for 45 seconds, or until the onion had softened and butter has melted. Add the butter and onions to a 9x9-inch casserole pan (or similar size) and arrange cod fillets over the top (Many recipes call for you to break the cod into pieces after it has precooked, but I like to keep the fillets whole and break into them during plating once the casserole is finished. I feel the former method can make the fish flesh breakdown too much and thus you lose some texture and he fish gets overcooked). Season the fish with a little salt and pepper. Place in the oven and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes while you make the sauce. 

In a medium sized sauce pan melt the butter over a medium heat and then stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to low and cook the flour and butter mixture, known as a roux, for about a minute. While this is cooking warm the milk in the microwave to take the chill off. Using warmed milk will make the white sauce thicken much more quickly. Return the heat to medium, and with a whisk in one hand, slowly pour in the milk to the sauce pan, whisking as you pour. I typically pour a bout a 1/2 cup of liquid in at a time, waiting for the sauce to thicken between pours.After all the milk has been added and the sauce has thickened, reduce the heat to low and add 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, the savory and a pinch of salt and pepper. Remove the fish from the oven and pour any of the liquid that escaped from the fish into the casserole dish into the white sauce and stir it in. This is a trick I use to prevent the casserole sauce from thinning out once combined. Pour the cheesy white sauce over the fish fillets and top with the remaining cup of grated cheddar cheese.To prevent the top of the casserole from turning chewy, a layer of bread crumbs which protects the cheese and also adds great flavor and crunch. While homemade bread crumbs work great, I like using Panko breadcrumbs (a Japanese style breadcrumb now available at most grocery stores). In fact, for my latest edition of this recipe I used lemon pepper seasoned Panko and the result was outstanding. If you can't find these then feel free to add fresh lemon zest or lemon pepper spice. Increase the oven temperature to 400 and return the casserole to the oven and cook for another 15 minutes until the sauce is bubbling, the cheese has melted and the bread crumbs have browned.

Cod au Gratin is an extremely satisfying comfort food. It makes for an excellent appetizer or as a main course with some steamed vegetables, a salad and a nice piece of bread.

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