Cooking On A Budget: Baked Cod with Herb Crust

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Baked Cod with Herb Crust


It's the first of April and we are still pretty chilly here in Connecticut. After a long winter of cozy, warm and hearty and heavier meals I am particularly ready to start eating lighter. This was one of the coldest and harshest winters ever and I found myself really down in the dumps most days. Unfortunately when I am like that I eat...and I eat. Well not sure how many extra pounds I have packed on but it's time to start cutting back on the heavy meals.

Cod has presented itself well here in recipes at Cooking On A Budget and it ranks up in the top three fish I am most fond of: black sea bass, cod and flounder. Each is a mild, flaky white fish that lends itself to a variety of preparations. The black sea bass from what I hear is a very expensive fish so I happen to be lucky that my husband and his friend who have a fishing boat love catching it in the waters of Long Island Sound. I am partial to adding a bit of texture as well as extra flavor to my fish preparations; although a piece of cod with just salt and pepper and some lemon juice satisfies me as well.

The amount of cod you purchase depends on a few things. How much you think you and those you are cooking for will want for a portion size. I picked up two lovely loins that came to 1.19 pounds. You see by the photograph that you could serve four portion sizes (cutting the loins in half for serving) with the added starch and vegetable. Don't freak out at the per pound price of $7.99. The total of these two loins came to $9.51. And was I ever stoked to see fresh asparagus on sale for $1.99 a pound! It was the best asparagus we have had in a very long time. I'll put another post up at some point and tell you how I made mine.

Now let's get onto the recipe and simple instructions. Be sure that you use FRESH herbs for this dish as that makes it so incredible. Rosemary complements fish extremely well as does the lemony flat leaf parsley and the mild, pungent flavor of thyme.
  •  2 cod loins
  • 16 Ritz® Crackers (or similar)
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp. butter - melted
  • 1 tbsp. fresh Rosemary (finely minced)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves (minced a little)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley leaves (minced)
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • good pinch kosher salt
  • salt and black pepper to taste
A note about purchasing the fish: I purchase mine from our local grocery store's seafood department. Most all fish that is caught is frozen at sea by big commercial fisheries. Some fish are caught local and available through independent fish markets. No matter where you purchase your fish you have every right to see it and smell it before buying. If it smells anything other than the ocean, do not buy it! The fish is fresh when it has a little bit of a shine to it. A dull looking fish is an indication it's getting old. When buying a whole fish the eyes must still be bright and smell like the ocean - otherwise switch to plan B for dinner.
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°.
  2. Salt and pepper both sides of your fish. If it is fresh, I do not recommend washing it.
  3. Take your crackers and place them in a plastic bag and crush with a mallet or rolling pin. Alternatively, pulse them in a food processor.
  4. Mince all of the fresh herbs.
  5. Melt your butter.
  6. Place the cracker crumbs, fresh herbs, the teaspoon of pepper and the good pinch of kosher salt in a bowl. Stir. Add in the melted butter and stir.
  7. Place your cod loins in your oven proof baking dish (make sure you season both sides with the extra salt and pepper to taste).
  8. Grab a handful of the crumbs and scrunch with your hands to pull the mixture together. Top each of the cod loins generously with the mixture and pat down on the top of the fish.
  9. Roll your lemon to start releasing the juices. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze either half or if the lemon isn't juicy enough the whole lemon all over the fish.
  10. Bake uncovered for about 20 -22 minutes depending on the thickness of the loin. The fish should be cooked when it looks like it does in the photograph below.
See how the fish is white but opaque? That's what you are looking for.

We were so happy with the meal. Like I mentioned earlier the asparagus was so flavorful, the baked potatoes (hand picked from the loose potatoes) were full of flavor and the cod was wonderful. The nice little crust with the fresh herbs, just absolutely delicious.  I have figured out what you would spend, including 2 extra bakers and more asparagus for four and the entire meal came to $16.70.  Feeding four people for $4.17 each.

I also want to mention that although you pay more for loose baking potatoes they are a far better quality this time of year versus those in the bag. The potatoes in the bag have been around for quite some time by now so when you can, treat yourself to the loose potatoes for baking - they are worth it.

This is a scrumptious, restaurant quality meal you can serve at home. It costs far less than a family style or fine dining restaurant and I think it even costs less than taking a family of four to a fast food restaurant!

The parting shot has some of my homemade Tartar Sauce. It's simple and delicious and far better than any I've had in a jar.

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