Atlantic Cod – A New England Tradition

Cod played an important role in the history of New England. Native American indians new of this valuable resource and it was a vitally important part of their diet. Evidence of this can be found in middens (old dump for domestic waste). It was believed that in 1621 while the pilgrims where starving, the native indians believing they would “receive blessings” showed the pilgrims how to catch cod and use the uneaten parts for fertilizer. The indians also introduced the pilgrims to quahogs, steamers, and lobster which they eventually ate out of desperation. Some say because of this introduction of cod to the pilgrims it opened up negotiations with the indians which eventually led to our modern day Thanksgiving.
 
So, here I am today thinking about how I could best prepare cod that would be traditional and delicious. I met with Chef Brendan Vesey of The Joinery in Newmarket, NH this past week and interviewed him about how he likes to cook cod. He gave me some great ideas. Anywhere from baking to pan frying. When I asked about kid friendly dishes he said “fish sticks are a good way to go” and I agree! He also suggested corn and potatoes make good side dishes with cod. 
 
We decided to go with a traditional New England recipe and bake our NH Community Seafood Cod.  My mom made a homemade creamed corn sourced from Baker’s Farm in Stratham, NH for a side dish. My dad made his own homemade tarter sauce using Little River Pantry’s Sweet Zucchini Relish. I must tell you, this so far has been my favorite meal! There really is something to be said for tradition especially if you’re  a New Englander.
 
 
“Baked Cod with Creamed Corn Side Dish”
 
For the Cod
 
3 Medium Size Cod Fillets from NH Community Seafood
1/2 Cup of Milk 
2 Sleeves of Ritz Crackers
1/2 Stick of Butter
1 tsp of Old Bay Seasoning
1 tsp Dried Parsley Flakes
Salt and Pepper
 
For the Creamed Corn
 
8 ears of fresh local sweet corn still in husk
2/3 cup heavy cream
3 tbs salted butter
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp pepper or to taste
 
 
Start by soaking your cod in milk. Place the cod in a clean ziploc bag and pour in the milk. Put back in refrigerator and let sit while you make the creamed corn.
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Preheat oven to 350
 
In a large deep sided bowel, cut all the corn away from the cob.
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Add the cream, salt, pepper and butter…
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Mix together and put in a casserole dish and bake for 30-40 minutes. Don’t over cook or the cream could snap!
 
This is what you end up with…. creamy, delicious corn that is still crunchy too… After you have cooked the corn, cover it with foil and set aside. 
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Now let’s make some baked cod! Lightly butter a large baking pan.
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Set that aside and make your Ritz crumb topping. Here is a cool hint my mom taught me. Mash up the crackers while they are still in the sleeves. This way the crumbs won’t fly all over and you just pour it out in to the bowl when you are done. Add 3 – 4 Tablespoons of butter to crackers, seasoning, parsley and salt and pepper to taste (I leave the salt out). Set that aside to be used in a few minutes.
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Place Cod filets in buttered baking dish and salt and pepper if you choose to do this. I don’t because I have to watch my salt intake for my kidney disease. Also, add a few pats of butter to the top of each filet. Can you guess which filet is mine????
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Now top with your Ritz Crumbs and bake for 20 minutes (if large filets like these) Adjust time for smaller filets.
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Take out of the oven and serve on a plate with your creamed corn! It’s homey, it’s traditional, it’s New England!
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