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Cod Cardinale from Bill Gianinno's
Wednesday April 13, 2011--Cod Cardinale from Bill Gianinno's in South St. Louis County. David Carson dcarson@post-dispatch.com

Yield: 4 servings

For sauce:

2 cups chicken stock plus more if needed

6 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 cup white wine

1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 3 tablespoons butter, divided

1 1/2 cups thickly sliced button mushrooms

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 cup grated provel cheese

Salt

Ground pepper

2/3 cup frozen peas

For fish:

Vegetable oil, for frying

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 large eggs

1 cup milk

1 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs (see note)

8 (4-ounce) pieces cod, rinsed and patted dry

1 cup grated provel cheese

8 slices fresh lemon, for optional garnish

1. Make the sauce. Bring 2 cups stock, lemon juice and white wine to a boil in a saucepan or microwave.

2. Melt 1/2 cup butter in a large skillet. Add mushrooms; sauté until mushrooms are cooked but still firm.

3. Adding 1 tablespoon at a time, stir 3/4 cup flour into the skillet. To prevent floury clumps, fully incorporate each spoonful before adding more. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer, stirring continuously, to cook off the floury taste.

4. One tablespoon at a time, stir in the hot stock mixture; to prevent lumps, fully incorporate each spoonful of liquid before adding more.

5. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, garlic, 1 cup provel and salt and pepper to taste. If necessary, stir in additional chicken stock to achieve the consistency of a thick gravy. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in peas. Keep hot while preparing cod.

6. Cook the fish. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat about 1/2 inch vegetable oil in a large heavy skillet on medium-high heat.

7. While oil heats, arrange three large shallow bowls side by side on the counter. Place 1 cup flour in the first bowl. Whisk together eggs and milk in the second bowl. Place bread crumbs in the third. Lightly coat each piece of fish first with flour, then dip into egg-milk mixture, then coat with bread crumbs. Shake off any loose flour or crumbs; set aside.

8. Test the oil temperature by flicking a few drops of water into the oil: If water sizzles, it's ready; if nothing happens, the oil isn't hot enough; if it splatters hard, it's too hot. Gently slide fish into the oil, leaving space between the pieces. (You many need to cook in batches, but there's no need to change the oil.) Fry until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Remove from skillet and drain on a rack covered with paper towels.

9. Transfer fish to a baking sheet. Sprinkle 1 cup provel over fish. Place in oven until provel melts.

10. To serve, arrange two pieces of fish on each serving plate, ladle hot sauce over the top, then top with a lemon slice for garnish.

Per serving: 1,060 calories; 54g fat; 29g saturated fat; 310mg cholesterol; 67g protein; 77g carbohydrate; 9g sugar; 4g fiber; 1,410mg sodium; 390mg calcium.

Note: For homemade seasoned bread crumbs similar to Bill Gianino's, process dried Italian bread in a food processor; season with garlic powder, grated Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper.

Variations: Calorie-conscious diners ask Bill Gianino's to grill or broil the fish; others substitute chicken for cod.

Recipe adapted for home kitchens by the Post-Dispatch.