Cod with braised lentils and prosciutto

Ingredients to serve 4

Prosciutto or bacon is the perfect accompaniment to pulses. This is a great winter dish when cod is eaten at its best.

Start preparing the lentils by soaking them in cold water for an hour. Pre-heat the oven to 160C/gas mark 3. Spread the thin prosciutto out onto a baking dish and cook in the oven until crisp. This should take around 20 minutes, but keep a watchful eye so that it doesn't dry out too much. Keep to one side.

Pour 20ml olive oil into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and gently cook the thick prosciutto, onion, carrot, leek, celery, garlic, thyme and rosemary for 5 minutes. Add the drained lentils, stir, and then add the chicken stock (a good-quality cube is fine). Bring to the boil and simmer until the lentils are soft to taste, but not mushy. This should take around 20 minutes, but taste to check. The consistency should be sauce-like. Set aside.

Heat a non-stick frying pan. Add the sunflower oil. Season the cod and gently cook skin-side down for 5 minutes. Turn over and cook for a further 4 minutes.

To serve, re-heat the lentils and gently stir in the butter and parsley, and season. Spoon the lentils onto warm plates, place the cod on top and garnish with the crispy prosciutto.

4 thin slices prosciutto
Sunflower oil for frying
4 x 180g cod fillets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the lentils

250g puy lentils
40ml extra virgin olive oil
100g thick prosciutto, diced (ask your deli for the end of the ham or use cubes of pancetta)
1 onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 leek, finely diced and washed
1 stick celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
1 litre chicken stock
30g unsalted butter
Half a small bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Taken from 'J Sheekey Fish' by Tim Hughes and Allan Jenkins (Preface, £25).

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