Making meals for a family means catering to a variety of preferences. Chef and father of five, Dean McDermott offers an array of adult- and kid-friendly recipes in his new book The Gourmet Dad (Harlequin, 2015). This easy-to-use meal guide offers more than 100 recipes. The following recipe for fish and chips is a great meal to share with family and friends.
Believe it or not, fish-and-chips are a dish dear to my heart. The only time my father and I really ever managed to get along was over a meal of F & Cs. I couldn’t get enough of the one-on-one time with my father—or the fish-and-chips, especially with the malt vinegar. This dish is all about fresh fish, a badass batter and the powerful malt vinegar reduction. The secret ingredient in my batter is a bit of hearty Guinness beer. I think that once you make this simple meal, you’re going to want to share it with someone you care about, too.
Malt Vinegar Fish and Chips Recipe
Malt Vinegar Reduction:
• One 12-ounce bottle malt vinegar
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 pound cod fillets, cut into finger-size pieces
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus 1-1/2 cups for the batter
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1-1/2 cups Guinness beer
• 1 large egg, beaten
• 1/2 to 1 cup canola oil
• Kosher salt, to taste
1. Prepare the malt vinegar reduction. Heat the vinegar, brown sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and whisk to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup, about 15 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, but leave the malt vinegar reduction in the saucepan.
2. Prepare the fish. Season the fish with salt and black pepper, to taste. Place 1/2 cup of the flour in a small bowl, and dredge the pieces of fish in the flour one by one. Place the coated fish on a large plate.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder, salt and both peppers. Create a well in the middle of the flour mixture, pour in the beer and egg, and whisk until the batter is smooth.
4. In a medium cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, heat about 1 inch of the oil to 350 degrees. Dip the pieces of cod into the batter, one by one, let the excess batter drip off and then slide them into the skillet. Fry the fish until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side, and remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
5. Place the fried cod in a large bowl and add a large spoonful of the malt vinegar reduction. Toss gently, ensuring that the cod pieces are well coated, and then arrange them on each of 4 plates. Drizzle the remaining reduction over the top and sprinkle with the kosher salt before serving with the chips.
For the Kiddos
Kids are the original fans of anything breaded and fried, so trust me, they’ll flip over this dish as is. Although most of the alcohol burns off during frying, I’d suggest you play it safe and eliminate the Guinness from the batter, replacing it with milk (or use club soda for a lighter batter). Dredge, batter and fry the cod as you do with the adult version, but put the malt vinegar reduction in a ramekin for dipping so that the little ones control how much goes on the fish.
More from The Gourmet Dad:
Recipe reprinted with permission from The Gourmet Dad: Easy and Delicious Meals the Whole Family Will Love by Dean McDermott and published by Harlequin Nonfiction, 2015.