Recipe: Baked Cod with Fennel, Shallots, and Orange Zest Butter

Simple to prepare and makes for a delightful dinner.

4 skinless cod fillets, about an inch thick
1 large fennel bulb
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons fresh tarragon leaves minced or 3/4 teaspoon dried
4 tablespoons vermouth
2 oranges (one blood and one navel looks pretty)
salt and fresh ground black pepper

Adjust the oven rack to a middle position and preheat your oven to 450F.

Cut the fennel bulb in half and remove the core. Slice the fennel into thin strips. In a microwave safe bowl, combine the fennel and the shallots and cover tightly with a lid or plastic wrap. Microwave on high for about 2 minutes, stir, and then heat in microwave for an additional 2 minutes until the fennel is slightly wilted.

In a small bowl, combine the softened butter, garlic, zest, tarragon, a large pinch of salt, and a few grinds black pepper. Mix until incorporated.

Zest one orange with a microplane, if you have one, or use a grater. Slice off opposing sides of the oranges and then remove the peel with a sharp pairing knife. Section the oranges and cut the sections into thirds. Set aside in a small bowl.

Cut eight 12-inch squares of tin foil and arrange four on your counter top. Divide the fennel and shallots equally between four squares and then sprinkle a tablespoon of vermouth over each.

Rinse the fish fillets and pat them dry. Salt each fillet with salt and pepper. Upon each mound of fennel place a fillet and then distribute butter mixture evenly on top of each fillet. Place the remaining squares of foil on top of each fillet and crimp the edges together and then roll each side of the foil in to make a nice little packet that is about 7 inches square.

Place the packets on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Carefully open one packet and check if the fish is cooked through and white. If not, then re-crimp the foil and bake again for an additional 4 minutes and check again. When the fish is ready remove the fillets and fennel from the packet by sliding them onto a plate with a spatula. Surround the fish with the orange sections and serve immediately.