The Perfect Christmas Eve Supper
Pan Roasted cod with Brussel Sprouts, celeriac and hazelnuts
Simple, festive ingredients without the ‘same old, same old’.
Try this, you won’t regret it.
Not everyone wants to stick with tradition at Christmas. A curry on christmas day would be too much, but a bit of fine dining on christmas eve, I think I could stretch to.
The most interesting thing to me about this recipe is that I would never do it myself. Sounds mad doesn’t it, but on Christmas eve I have to have roast ham cooked by my dear mother, it might well be my favorite meal of the year, one I’ve had almost every year for 20 years! Simply roasted with her magical cheese straws and other buffet nibbles, bliss!
However, in my professional kitchen I will plan to cook a whole lot more cod in the week coming up to Christmas. It sits beautifully on my christmas menu at Neston.
You will need some lovely fresh cod, ideally the loin, ideally from a fishmonger (any other fresh white fish would work). Some brussel sprouts, a celeriac, a couple of spuds, a few hazelnuts, an orange and some butter
So, I would do some of this advance, so you can float around like nigella at the end, and not stuck in the kitchen all night.
Firstly, salt the cod. This will firm up the flesh, and make it hold together when you cook it. Simply sprinkle some malden sea salt or any flakey salt over the fish about 6 hours before you plan to cook it. Then rinse it off when you cook it.
Next, chop the bottom off your sprouts and chop them in half. Put them in a roasting tin with some olive oil, salt and pepper and cook at 180 until soft and slightly browned and charred. Then cool and set aside.
To make the celeriac element, chop your celeriac into 1 inch cubes as well as the potatoes. I like to go about 50/50. In a pan of cold water, firstly put in the potatoes and bring to the boil. Give it about 5 minutes and then add the celeriac, this way they will be cooked at around the same time. Once soft, drain and mash with a little salted butter, and again set aside.
Last bit of advanced prep, toast off some hazelnuts in a dry pan and smash them up a bit.
At the last minute, here is all you need to do: get a frying pan on the heat with some olive oil, once the pan is smoking, put your fish in, skin side down and don’t touch it for about 3 minutes to allow it to crisp up. In a saucepan, gently bring your celeriac mash up to temperature.
Now once you turn your fish, it’s all go, add a good knob of butter, your sprouts, your hazelnuts and a squeeze of orange juice, drop the heat of your pan as low as it will go. Insert a knife into your fish. Once it’s warm, not hot, the fish is cooked. That’s it. The last bit should take you 10 minutes at the most depending on the thickness of your fish.
Serve it up, and drink with a delicious white wine, something like a white rioja is perfect for me.
The perfect Christmas eve supper
by Steve Mercer