Merluzzo alla Siciliana~(Codfish with Black olive paste in Red potato Crust)


I set out Saturday evening to have something a little different,  something I haven't had in such a long time, a visit to Sicily.  I started thinking about those wonderful oil cured olives you could only get in Sicily.  That wonderful fresh, fish. Those fabulous capers from the sunny Island of Pantelleria, south of Sicily.   How could I get that feeling again in Tupelo, Mississippi?   I had ordered some Sicilian oil cured olives sometime ago by mail order and stuck some in the back of the refrigerator.  What a nice surprise to find them hidden in the corner, ready for me.  How could I forget such a wonderful thing?
 Olive paste requires, a few olives, some garlic, parsley and a little olive oil.  I have even made olive paste without garlic.  The best part of all  is it requires very little effort.  Spread over some  Cod fish fillets,  it adds wonderful flavor to a very bland fish.  Setting out to do the impossible, duplicating something I had long ago, seemed impossible.  I must admit, I got pretty close.  
Olive paste:
1/4 cup Sicilian oil cured olives/ pitted
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
One clove of garlic (optional)
1 cup of flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon of Capers (optional)

Into the food Processor place your  olives, olive oil, garlic, parsley and about a teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Salt is optional as the oil cured olives have some salt in them.  I always add just a little.    Pulse everything  until your parsley is processed fine.  You will have a beautiful thick paste.
Pour into a bowl and set aside

Potato crust:
5 -6 red potatoes sliced like chips.  Set your oven to 375 bake.
Place sliced potatoes into a bowl filled with water.  Set aside for 10 minutes. Your water will turn cloudy.  This means your potatoes are releasing their starch.  Drain, dry, and set aside in a bowl.  
Toss your potatoes in Olive oil, salt and pepper and place them in a hot skillet.  Place them in your oven for 15 minutes.   Your potatoes will cook and become slightly crisp.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Set your oven now to bake 400. 

In a large,  flat  oven proof skillet enough to handle your four pieces of fish,  begin to line your pan with potato slices in the shape of your fish, as if you were creating a blanket for your fish.   Lay your fish on top of each potato blanket.  Squeeze some lemon over each piece of fish.  Spread your olive paste over your fish. Cover with remaining potatoes to create your blanket.  Bake in a  400 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Turn your oven to broil for 5-7 minutes more.   Being careful not to burn your potatoes.   Codfish is quite thick and requires longer cooking time when it's inside the potato crust. 
Serve with salad and wonderful dry Pinot Grigio~ Buon Appetito


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