The second of the cod au gratin recipes I’m testing is from Rock Recipes. I have to admit that I’m rooting for this recipe because the creator, Barry Parsons, is a food blogger from St. John’s, Newfoundland, the home of cod au gratin. Parsons has changed things up with the addition of several ingredients that are anything but traditional.
Parsons’ twists include savoury, which is a very traditional herb in Newfoundland. However, he also suggests the not-so-common-on-the-rock substitutes of dill or tarragon. I used tarragon, as I still haven’t found my savoury, not having recovered completely from our recent kitchen reno. Olive oil is mixed with the bread crumbs to give them a bit of extra crunch. Dijon adds a bit of a kick to the white sauce, which is thickened with the addition of parmesan. In fact, the sauce came out quite thick and I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough of it.
It turned out that there was enough sauce for a reasonable fish-to-sauce ratio. But as much as I am enamoured of tarragon for its distinct aromacy, I have to say it doesn’t belong in cod au gratin. It really overtook the dish, subduing the cheddar and dijon flavours. And poor, poor parmesan. It had to fight the both the tarragon and the cheddar. Given the chain of flavour power, it seems pointless to even bother with the parmesan. You could say the same for mixing the olive oil with the cracker crumbs–it doesn’t make enought of a difference to be worth it.
The verdict from the taste testers (my husband and four children) was “Blech”. Mind you, I enjoyed it, so I think they were reacting to how far this veered from their expectations for cod au gratin. Perhaps it would have worked better with the savoury. If you want to make this dish to feature your herb of choice, have at it. If you’re looking for the down-home taste of cod au gratin, you’ll want to try a more traditional recipe.