Living Off The Land (& Sea)
This recipe is about as simple as it gets. I’ve been devouring this stuff since I was a small child. As a kid, I was fond of drizzling it with ketchup, and I must admit, sometimes I still do. It’s one of my favorite comfort foods. It’s incredibly simple to prepare, and it’s amazingly delicious.
This is a traditional New England seafood dish that’s been around for a long time. I’s most often prepared with haddock, which is my favorite fish to use, but it also works well with sea bass, tautog, fluke, cod, hake, cusk and/or pollock. The original recipe calls for nothing more than Ritz cracker crumbs, fish and butter, which is really all you need. But every cook seems to have their own unique variation of it. Following is mine.
Feel free to serve it with a dipping sauce (tarter sauce is the regional favorite.) But if the fish I’m cooking is nice and fresh, I prefer to eat it straight up, and savor the delicate flavor of the sea.
New England Baked Haddock
- (4) 8-ounce fillets of haddock, skinned
- 1-1/4 cups low-salt Ritz cracker crumbs
- 1 lemon
- 8 tablespoons butter, melted
- Dry white wine (pinot grigio)
- 1 teaspoon Frank’s Hot Sauce
- salt & pepper
- Paprika & parsley flakes for garnish (optional)
Dry your fillets off with paper towels, and remove any pin bones. Sprinkle a thin layer of cracker crumbs into the bottom of a ceramic baking dish that’s just large enough to hold the fillets. (I like to use individual-size serving platters when possible.)
Melt the butter and stir in the hot sauce. Drizzle a bit of melted butter over the cracker crumbs in the bottom of the pan, and then add the fish, skin side down. (Tuck the thin tail sections of the fillet underneath, so that each portion is of equal thickness.)
Sprinkle each fillet with a bit of lemon juice, salt and pepper. Give them a light drizzle of butter. Top it with a thin layer of cracker crumbs, until all the fish is just barely covered.
Now add more melted butter on top. Add about two to three tablespoons of white wine per serving to the bottom of the pan. Dust the top of the fish with a kiss of paprika.
Bake it on the top rack in a pre-heated 425-degree oven until the cracker crumbs just begin to brown, about 17 to 20 minutes. Thicker cuts of fish will take a bit longer. (The fish is done at 145 degrees.) Top it off with some parsley flakes for garnish, and serve immediately.