I feel badly for pepperoni. Pepperoni doesn’t make it onto fancy charcuterie boards or into uppity dishes at high-end restaurants. It’s cured and spiced just like salami and special hams, but is somehow in a different class of meats, often relegated to the sad super-processed section of the supermarket with American cheese.
Let’s be honest: when we think of pepperoni, we see it in its pizza dungarees. But that’s negligent. Pizza is wonderful, but it’s not the only way to showcase pepperoni’s meaty, salty flavor. Salty and cured foods like chorizo, hot dogs and pepperoni are discreet culinary enablers, bringing out the best in the ingredients with which they are paired.
This dish was inspired by a legendary dish by Gabriel Kreuther, formerly of the Modern in New York City: Chorizo-Crusted Cod with White Bean Purée. The chorizo was bound to the cod with egg, and it looked like little fish scales. Just as Chef Kreuther knew that cod would make for a great canvas to showcase the intensely flavored Spanish chorizo, I also knew pepperoni could shine given a similar setting. Thanks to the insulating power of the pepperoni shingles, the cod stays moist and flaky, and is punched up with a bright ring of nature’s ketchup, better known as pineapple.
- One 20-ounce can pineapple slices in pineapple juice
- 4 thick cod fillets, about 1¾ pounds total
- 1 large egg, beaten
- Kosher salt
- 2 ounces pepperoni (I use large charcuterie-style pepperoni, but pizza-size will work)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. On a sheet pan, assemble 4 stacks of 2 pineapple rings each. Brush the fillets liberally with the beaten egg, and salt liberally. Shingle the pepperoni onto each fillet, overlapping the pepperoni slightly, and pressing down firmly around the fillet to set; each fillet will use 6 to 8 slices. Brush the pepperoni liberally with the remaining egg wash and press firmly again. Place a pepperoni-wrapped fillet on each stack of pineapple. Bake until the fish is flaky and the pepperoni is crisp, about 20 minutes. Use an elongated fish spatula to lift the pineapple and cod off the pan together and place directly onto a serving plate.
Reprinted with permission from The Laws of Cooking...and How to Break Them by Justin Warner, Flatiron Books.