This sounds pretty fancy however it can come together in 35 minutes. You can even make this a one-pan meal if you want, though two skillets are necessary to hit less than 30 minutes.
An agrodolce is an Italian sweet and sour sauce. I’ve added a flavor boost with some anchovy paste and a bit of sriracha. Neither is really noticeable with all the vinegar and sugar. They’d be missed if they weren’t there though.
Pan Roasted Cod Agrodolce
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30-40 minutes
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4″ strips
1 red onion, cut int 1/4″ strips
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
1 tsp. anchovy paste
1 tsp. sriracha sauce
2 – 4 cod fillets (between 1/2″ and 1″ thick)
kosher salt and black pepper
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a non-stick over medium heat. Add the peppers and onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss with the oil and allow to cook for 5 minutes.
While the peppers cook combine the vinegars, sugar, anchovy and sriracha in a small bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Stir the sauce into the skillet until the onions and pepper are coated. Reduce the heat to low and allow the sauce to reduce and thicken, about 10 minutes.
When the sauce is reduce transfer it to a clean bowl and cover it with a plate (or plastic wrap) to keep warm. Wipe on the skillet as best you can and return the skillet to medium heat.
Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and heat until shimmering. Pat dry the cod fillets, sprinkle with salt and pepper and add to the skillet. Cook for 4 minutes on the first side, carefully flip to the uncooked side and cook for another 2-3 minutes. The fillets should be opaque all the way through. An instant read thermometer will hit 140°F when the fish is done.
To serve spoon the onion/pepper mixture onto your plate and place a piece of cooked cod on top. Tilt the pan and gather a spoonful of sauce, drizzle this over the fish. A bit of freshly cracked black pepper and a sprinkling from on high of sea salt will add a nice finish. I served it with a rice/quinoa I found in the grocery freezer section.
If you want to dirty an extra pan you can cook the fish in a second skillet when the sauce has reduced for 5 minutes.
I have a small squeeze tube of anchovy paste that I use in dishes such as this. I picked it up in the Italian food section of my local grocery store and keep it in the fridge along with a tube of tomato paste. The great thing about paste in a tube is it will last longer because there is little to no air in contact with the unused portion. Plus it had a “good until” date of two years into the future so I don’t have to find 17 uses for anchovy paste in one week.
This came out pretty well with a nicely browned chicken thigh surrounded by a flavorful sauce of tomatoes, olives and capers. It had a minimum of prep work and, despite the number of ingredients, came together in less time than it takes for the pizza guy to get here.
Other recipes like this I’ve seen used chicken breast. I like the flavor of chicken thighs and that they are more forgiving when overcooked.
1 Tbsp. green peppercorns, drained, rinsed, chopped
1 Tbsp. basil paste (or 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil)
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
Pat dry the chicken thighs and trim any excess fat. Sprinkle the skin side with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil in a 12″ non-stick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Place thighs skin side down in the skillet. Cook for ~5 minutes until evenly browned. Sprinkle upward facing side with salt and pepper, flip thighs and cook another 5 minutes. Remove to a plate.
If less than a tablespoon of oil remains in the pan supplement with additional oil. Add the onions and pepper, sprinkle with salt and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add chicken broth and scrap up any brown bits created by browning the chicken. Cook until the broth is mostly evaporated.
Add garlic, spice blend, red pepper and anchovy paste. Stir to incorporate. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes and juice, olives, capers and peppercorns. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan and settle it into the sauce. Reduce temp to low and cook at a simmer for about 20 minutes.
Add basil and parsley to the sauce and taste. Adjust salt & pepper accordingly. Serve with white rice or pasta.
If you don’t have the Mural of Flavors spice blend you can mix together 1 tsp. dried thyme, 1 tsp. ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, 1/2 tsp. ground coriander and the zest from a lemon or orange. Use 1 teaspoon of that and save the rest.
Once the farm stands shutdown and our kitchen garden succumbs to frost it is difficult to find decent fresh basil. The grocery store will sell you a plastic box of it for $2.99 with half wilted leaves lacking aroma. I found basil paste in a tube and gave it a try. It’s OK, though certainly not the same as just picked fresh basil. I’d use it again.