Lenten Friday Recipe: Marcella Hazan’s Fish In Crazy Water

Medieval PoachingThis is an interesting take on sous vide done with out the wrap in a process called “poaching.” The practice of poaching began in the Late Middle Ages when peasants were banned from hunting wild animals, such pursuits being reserved for the nobility. Although poaching the King’s deer or pheasants was punishable by death in many places, the practice proved nearly irresistible to the peasant classes, enamored as they were of eating game in this fashion.

Poaching continues to this day, though is mostly limited to reserves or protected areas of Asia and Africa. Occasionally a case of poaching is prosecuted in the United States. Best to check your local ordinances before trying out this Italian classic from Marcella Hazan.

In a deep skillet or Dutch oven add 1 1/2 lbs. of chopped Roma tomatoes, juice, pulp and all, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 3 cloves of thinly sliced garlic, a grip* of chopped parsley, red pepper flakes to taste, a pinch of salt, and four cups of water and bring to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for 45 minutes. Next remove cover, boil and reduce by half, and add four 6 oz. filets of snapper, skin side up. After 2 minutes, turn the fish, season, and cook until done. Serve on grilled sour dough slices with plenty of broth. Remember not to enjoy it too much. It’s lent. Sinner.

Some may be saying, “Hey, didn’t I just read about this in Food & Wine?” Why yes, yes you did. It was right next to Hazan’s Pasta with Abruzzi-Style Lamb Sauce, maybe her best recipe. For whatever reason, despite the fact that her name is almost synonymous with Italian cooking in the English speaking world, her lamb sauce remained relatively unknown, hidden in plain sight on page 174 of Marcella Cucina. I was in on (relatively) secret knowledge. Now that it’s on the cover of the March 2013 edition of Food & Wine it’s gone mainstream. When the Violent Femmes made it big in ninth grade, nobody remembered the black and white tshirt with the band’s name splatter painted across the front that I wore in seventh grade. I knew about it first.

*I worked with a chef who would use grip as a measurement catch all. When asked how much basil was in a dish we were told “a grip.” When asked how many steaks we had for the night we were told “a grip.” In this case it means to taste.

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One Response to Lenten Friday Recipe: Marcella Hazan’s Fish In Crazy Water

  1. emmycooks says:

    Hee hee. That first line gave us a good laugh. 🙂

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