Friday, August 2, 2013

Cajun Cod with Praline Sauce and Dirty Rice

To be honest, this was actually a meal that I had been planning on blogging about.  And planning...and planning...but somehow never got around to it. Finally, a year later, I made this cajun cod with praline sauce and dirty rice again and decided that it's too good not to share.

There are three components to this meal but really, once you get the rice cooking, you can get everything done by the time the rice is finished. And since this meal is a main dish, side dish and vegetable all rolled into one, you don't have any additional work to do to have dinner on the table (well, you could always serve with a salad because more vegetables are never a bad thing in my book).

And it's amazing.  The praline sauce is sweet (but the whiskey or apple juice helps to tone down the sweetness a bit) and the cajun seasoning adds a lot of flavor and spices.  Somehow, it all just works together.  We really enjoyed this dinner and my husband happily took the leftovers the next day.

Cajun Cod with Praline Sauce and Dirty Rice
Taken from: Pink Parsley
Serves 4

For the dirty rice:
  • 1 link Italian sausage, casing removed (OPTIONAL; I omitted)
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • ¼ cup diced red bell pepper (I used about 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper)
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup long grain white rice (I used brown rice instead)
  • 1½ cups low-sodium chicken or veggie broth
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup chopped scallions (I omitted)
For the praline sauce:
  • ½ cup chopped pecans (I used chopped walnuts instead)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. whiskey (or apple juice)
For the fish:
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil 
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika (I used regular paprika)
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 cod fillets (about 6 oz. each)
  • 1 tbsp. butter (if pan-searing)

  1. If using a grill for the fish, preheat the grill to medium-high.
  2. To make the dirty rice, if using sausage, crumble into a skillet or large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook until starting to brown, 2-3 minutes (if not using sausage, just omit this step).  Stir in the butter, onion, bell pepper, carrot and garlic.  Cook on medium-high heat until just softened, 2-3 minutes.  Stir in the rice and cook for 1 minute.  Mix in the broth.  Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes (for brown rice, mine was closer to 35-40 minutes).  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add cayenne pepper to taste (this is hot so add sparingly).  Stir in the scallions. Fluff with a fork and serve.
  3. While the rice is cooking, make the praline sauce.  Toast the pecans in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.  Transfer the pecans to a plate and set aside.  Return the pan to medium heat.  Combine the sugar and water, bring to a simmer, lower the heat and cook until reduced by about half, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the toasted pecans and salt, and cook 1-2 minutes more.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and whiskey until smooth.  The sauce may thicken upon standing, but can be rewarmed over low heat.
  4. To prepare the fish, combine the oil, paprika, thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk to blend.  Pat the mixture over both sides of the fish.
  5. Oil the grates of the grill.  Grill until the fish is cooked through and the fillets release easily, about 3 minutes per side.  (I don't have a grill so I heated a large oven-proof pan on medium high heat.  I added 1 tbsp. butter and the fish and cooked on the first side for about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, flip over to other side and cook about 4-7 minutes.  Cook until fish  flakes easily -- if you have an instant-read thermometer, it should read 130 degrees.)  
  6. Serve fish over the dirty rice and topped with the warm praline sauce.


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