Jim Mercer, Executive Chef at the Bay Club, MA
Choosing just one specialty from his menu was a challenge for Jim Mercer, Executive Chef at the Bay Club at Mattapoisett. This was not due to indecision, but rather that the menu “follows the seasons to change the menu.” From winter braises to summer grilling, his choices adapt to complement the changing New England weather.
But he tackled the task. A supporter of the “localvoire movement” emphasizing locally sourced foods, he considered the New Bedford Sea Scallops as an option. But, he said, “The more I work with the beautiful New England Cod, the more I constantly refer to it as my favorite fish.”
And with that, his Cod “Pot Roast” wins.
Local Ingredients, Blending of Flavors
This name is usually associated with beef, but Chef Mercer puts a fresh spin on things. Parsnips, carrots, potatoes and leeks provide a base of pot roast flavors to a lighter seafood version of the traditional meal.
Those who dine at the Bay Club can feel good knowing Chef Mercer prefers locally grown food. And his philosophy is not the only impressive thing about him. He was head chef and owner of Mex in Boston, and held chef roles at Boston’s East Meets West Catering Company and Gusto Trattoria, as well as Page Carter Catering and The Catered Affair.
With this background, he is surely up to most culinary challenges—even choosing one dish in a sea of excellent options. But the cod pot roast, a menu staple, is a fine choice for anyone. Traditional pot roast flavors, often associated with winter, are tweaked with a summery cod. This symbolic intertwining of seasons and blending of flavors is a hallmark of Chef Mercer’s style, making this dish a viable option year round.
Chef Mercer recommends pairing the cod pot roast with a dry or crisp white wine—also perfect any time of the year.
Chef Mercer's Cod Pot Roast
COD "POT ROAST"
Chef Jim Mercer
The Bay Club Mattapoisett
2 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, sliced razor thin
2 leeks (white part only), halved and cut ½ inch
1 cup+ turnip, carrots, and parsnips in ¼ inch cubes
2 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼ inch cubes
2 cups fish stock
2 T Pernod
1/4 pound sugar snap peas, halved
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme salt and pepper, to taste
2 pounds thick cod fillet, cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or chervil
Extra virgin olive oil
Set the oven at 450 degrees. In a large flameproof casserole, melt the butter. Add the garlic and leeks and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring often
Add turnip, carrot and parsnips along with yellow potatoes. Stir well to coat with the butter. Pour in the fish stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Top off with a little water, if necessary, so the potatoes are covered with liquid. Turn the heat to low and cook the potatoes for 10 minutes or until they are almost tender.
Stir in the peas, thyme, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper. Set the fish on top of the vegetables add the Pernod and transfer the casserole to the oven. Roast the cod for 15 minutes or until it is flaky and cooked through.
Remove the casserole from the oven. With a wide metal spatula, set a piece of fish in each of 4 shallow bowls or deep plates. Spoon the vegetables and broth over the fish. Garnish with olive oil and chopped parsley.