Whenever I need a good dose of old school Italian-style seafood I go to see John Conte. His restaurant, Conte's 1894, is a couple hours away from my home, true, but I make the trip gladly and as frequently as I am able. (Click this link and you'll see why I love his place so much.)
When I cannot make the trip but still have a craving I do what any self-respecting meatball would do: Imitate the master as best I can.
The haddock fillets that you see here were initially sentenced to a bleak end in a diet-friendly, excruciatingly boring oven broil. Then I stepped in and decreed (unilaterally and without debate) that we would offer the poor things the respect that they deserve and give them "The Full Conte." Which is to say pan cook them quickly in a nice red sauce and serve them over pasta. The way John would.
I decided on a puttanesca sauce for a couple of reasons. One, the flavor intensity is a nice contrast to the mild fish; and two, it's an easy sauce to make, half hour tops. (Hell, it took longer than that to wrest control of the evening's menu from the "responsible" adult in attendance.)
Add in a can of crushed tomatoes, some Kalamata olives and capers.
Let it simmer, under medium heat, for maybe 15 minutes.
Lay the haddock fillets right on top of the sauce and turn up the heat.
Resist the urge to move around or turn over the fillets. Just allow the haddock to cook from the bottom up, while spooning some of the hot sauce on the topside.
Minutes later and you've got yourself a fine specimen of old school pan-cooked seafood.
It won't put Conte's out of business, but why in hell would I want to do that? Like I said, I don't mind the drive.
Haddock alla Puttanesca
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 dried hot pepper, crushed
4 anchovy fillets2 Tbsp capers, rinsed
3/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 lb. haddock fillet
1/2 lb. cooked spaghetti
In a saucepan saute the olive oil, garlic and hot pepper for around two minutes, then add the anchovies and stir until the fillets are broken up.
Add the tomatoes, olives, capers and salt, stir and allow to simmer at medium heat for about 15 minutes.
Add the haddock fillet to the saucepan and turn the heat up to high. As the haddock is cooking spoon the hot sauce over the fillet so that it becomes covered in sauce. Cook for around 8 minutes or until the haddock is done.
Serve over the spaghetti, or another pasta of your choosing.