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This recipe is the perfect example of how a few killer ingredients can make a gorgeous, effortless dish.
The concept is simple: use chorizo, so full of garlic and paprika and its own natural drippings, to flavor the rest of the dish. Cut slices of dried, brilliantly red Spanish chorizo and layer them on top of a piece of cod. Here's a chef's trick: add a little olive oil to a small nonstick skillet on the stove. Place the fish, chorizo side up, in the hot pan and then put the whole thing in the oven. That way you have the chorizo crisping from the heat of the oven, and the bottom of the fish forming a golden crust from the heat of the pan.
After ten minutes, the fish is done and the chorizo has rendered out its precious flavor into the bottom of the pan. That's when you stir in canned cannellini beans, and heat them through in the drippings, to capture every last milligram of flavor. Then stir in a simplified, easy basil and arugula pesto made with Pecorino cheese, a sharp sheep's milk cheese that slightly mirrors the saltiness of Manchego and works so well with the chorizo. However, if tonight is not the night for using the food processor, just pick up some fresh basil pesto from the supermarket when you buy the fish. And don't feel bad about it. The cheese melts, and the greens cling to the beans. The whole thing looks so beautiful, and is so impressive. And yet, the hardest thing in this recipe is arranging the chorizo on top of the cod.
Of course, as per the title of this column, when I test these recipes, I test them for two. Since Mr. English was on a business trip, I saved all the food, wrapped it up, and took it in to work for lunch with a colleague. I had never cooked for him before, and was nervous. In the end, it was the perfect dish. It's one that looks like you really know what you're doing, but also just has real flavor.