Last summer while visiting Nantucket, we spied a cookbook called Dishing Up Maryland, and even though we already had so many cookbooks we knew we could never possibly exhaust all the recipes waiting to be prepared, we, nevertheless, could not resist purchasing this one from our home state. And then it sat on our cookbook shelf for six months. So, in the spirit of actually using my cookbooks (which was why I started this blog in the first place) rather than looking up a recipe online, I took it off the shelf and picked a recipe. The cookbook is divided by the four seasons, and although the calendar, and quite frankly, the warm temperatures, still say it is fall, I selected "Rockfish in Tomato Saffron Cream Sauce over Rice" from the "Winter" section.
We began our preparations at Fresh Catch in Mansfield, Massachusetts. The cookbook said that rockfish is also known as striped bass, which was what we expected we might find at the fishmonger, but rockfish was not to be had by any name. We were advised that haddock would be a good substitution, so we bought that, and it was not cheap.
Back at home I got out my trusty indispensable cast-iron skillet, and melted 3T of butter, to which I added 3 small chopped shallots. After these were sauteed, I added a stalk of celery (cut into 8 pieces); a large pinch of saffron threads, 1/3 c. of white cooking wine, a pinch of garlic salt, and a one-quart baggie of frozen tomatoes. The recipe said to use a 12 oz. can of tomatoes, but we hardy New Englanders know to freeze or can some of our harvest if we don't want to eat tomatoes that taste like wood later in the year.All of this was cooked down for about 10 minutes. The fish was then added to the skillet, which was kept on a low simmer for another 10 minutes. The fish was removed and set aside, covered, on a plate, while the sauce cooked down some more, and rice was cooked. When the rice was ready, I removed the skin from the fish, cut it into small pieces, and put it back in the pan along with 1 cup of heavy cream. This all cooked for about 5 minutes more.
The result was exquisitely tender fish in a delicious and savory sauce. The sauce probably could have cooked down a bit more, as it was very watery, which was why I did not see any need to puree it as the recipe suggests.