Duckfat-Poached Haddock with Dill Pickle Vinaigrette, Sauerkraut, and Warm Kale Salad

It’s Monday night, so you’re going to have to bear with my subpar iPhone/Instagram photos, but this was a really tasty meal that was surprisingly easy to pull together. From start to finish, including cleaning the kitchen after, it only took an hour. Poaching fish in fat is really great way to retain the moisture and flavor. You don’t have to worry too much about it and it tastes great! Plus the added bonus of the healthy fats. Don’t worry about how much fat is used in the preparation of this meal – they are beneficial fats and I promise it isn’t as scary as it sounds.
This is yet another recipe from The Preservation Kitchen. I’m inadvertently cooking and eating my way through that book. So – need a quick but impressive weeknight dinner? Read on my friend…This takes a bit of planning, but nothing too crazy. I already happened to have rendered duckfat, which imparts a really interesting flavor to the fish, but if you don’t have any, olive oil would work just fine.

You’ll also want some fresh dill pickles. I used some homemade pickles I made, also from The Preservation Kitchen book, but definitely not necessary to be homemade. Another shortcut I took was to just quickly warm up some sauerkraut on the stove, rather than braising it in the oven with bacon, riesling, chicken stock and a variety of spices. Sounds amazing, but again, didn’t have the attention span for that tonight.What do you need?

  • 1 pound mild fish, like haddock, cod, flounder, whiting, etc, cut into four portions
  • 4 cups duckfat (or olive oil or ghee)
  • 1 bunch kale
  • a handful of dried cherries, reconstituted in hot water
  • a handful of pistachios
  • a bit of sauerkraut
  • jar of fresh dill pickles
  • a smidge of honey
  • some olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

The actual recipe in the book is a bit more involved and precise, but I just wanted to be in and out of the kitchen tonight.

How to cook the fish

  • In a cast iron or other heavy-bottomed pan, warm the duckfat until it reaches 150 degrees. I had a hard time keeping it at this temperature – it kept sneaking to 170, 180, etc so be patient and keep it on a really low heat. Season the fish with sea salt and gently place the four sections into the warmed fat. Cook the fish for about 15 minutes, until it becomes firm and opaque.
  • When it’s done, use a slotted spoon to gently take the fish out of the pan and put onto a plate, on top of the warm kale salad (directions next).
  • If you’re using duckfat, strain the fat and keep it in a jar for a few more uses. The nutritional content will still remain, since you used it at a fairly low temperature.

How to make the warm kale salad

  • Soak a generous handful of dried cherries in hot water for a few minutes
  • Shell a generous handful of pistachios
  • Wash and spin dry a bunch of lacinato kale, and sautee everything together in a buttered pan
  • Add salt and pepper to taste

What about the dill pickle vinaigrette?

  • 1/2 cup dill pickle liquid
  • 1/4 cup diced dill pickles
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill, if you have some
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small pot on low heat, reduce the pickling liquid by half. Stir in the chopped pickles, dill, and honey, then whisk in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. The author added a minced shallot as well, but like I said, I was in a rush and it was still tasty without.

Once the dressing is done, put it into whatever you plan to keep it in, and lightly warm up a bit of sauerkraut in the same pot (not too much, since you don’t want to lose too much of the nutritional benefits of raw sauerkraut).

To finish, place the warm kale salad in the center of your plate, then gently place the fish on top, add sauerkraut around the fish, then drizzle everything with a bit of the dill pickle vinaigrette.

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