Around the time I started getting interested in cooking with my friends in high school, I used to make a cod stew with bacon, tomato, and cannellini beans. Food – smell, taste, the act of cooking and sharing a meal – can be a powerful nostalgia trigger, and the impression I got when I saw these sad little cod fillets and two slices of bacon serendipitously sitting side by side on the bottom discount shelf at the grocery store at the end of the day was so strong I had to make it again.
I’m a haphazard cook and followed the recipe purely from memory and with what I had to hand. If you try this (I recommend you do, it’s delicious!) feel free to play around with quantities and flavour.
2 slices/rashers bacon or 1/2 cup pancetta cubes
1 red onion
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp sweet paprika (not smoked
1 can cannellini beans
1 400g can tomatoes or 2 smaller cans
2 fillets cod, cut into large bite-sized pieces
1 cup frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooking time approximately 20 minutes.
Cut the bacon into large pieces and put in a medium-low frying pan to melt the fat a bit. If not enough fat comes off, add a splash of olive oil. When the bacon begins to crisp, add a chopped onion and crushed garlic, stir for a couple minutes. Add the paprika, a generous pinch of salt, and plenty of black pepper. Turn the heat up a bit and cook for a further few minutes until the onion is soft and the garlic is golden. At this point I deglazed the pan with about half a cup of water, but I would have used red wine or red wine vinegar if I’d had it.
Drain and rinse the beans and add to the pan. Add the can of tomatoes and bring to a boil for a few minutes. Turn down the heat to a simmer.At this point, if you’re short on time you can add the peas and cod. If you’d like to let the stew simmer for a while this is tasty too.
Once you’ve added the cod and the peas, let simmer for five to seven minutes. The cod will cook quite quickly, and you don’t want it to get tough. Taste and season more if required.
I ate this with potato wedges and mayonnaise, and later with brown rice – both combinations were delicious. I find this dish perfect for a light summer lunch with salad, or a warming winter dinner with a hunk of homemade bread.