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Mandoline helps pair potatoes with baked haddock

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - 12:01 am

This past summer I fell in love with a kitchen gadget that has been relatively slow to catch on in the U.S. — the mandoline.

I’ve had several of these kicking around my kitchen for a while now, but I never quite saw the need for them. For those not in the know, a mandoline is shaped like a plank with a very thin, very sharp blade at the far end. To use it, you slide a firm vegetable along the plank. Each time you slide over the blade, it shaves a slice off the vegetable.

Many models are adjustable, allowing you to quickly and easily create slices ranging from 1/4 -inch to paper thin. Which is nice, but so what? I have good knives and a good food processor, both of which slice nicely.

Except the mandoline isn’t simply a manual food processor, and it is so much more precise than a knife. Food processors usually are too robust to produce ultrathin slices. And knives — at least in most home cooks’ hands (including my own) — simply can’t produce consistent results.

I discovered the difference this summer when on a whim I decided I wanted thinly shaved garlic in a salad. I used a knife on the first clove and didn’t get even close to what I wanted. A processor was out of the question for something so small. So I grabbed the mandoline and carefully rubbed the clove back and forth over the blade. In seconds I’d reduced it to thin shavings that perfectly flavored my salad.

Next time, I shaved the vegetables themselves for the salad. And as summer turned to fall, I switched from salads to root vegetables. Paper-thin slices of potatoes, butternut squash, onions and sweet potatoes became delicate and sweet when piled into a pan and roasted.

As I contemplated a fresh approach to “breaded” and baked haddock, I turned again to the mandoline to render a potato fit for pairing with the fish. In any other form, potatoes would be too robust for a delicate baked fish. But shaved paper thin, then wrapped around the fish, the potato slices become a deliciously crisp edible wrapper.

Just one caution – there is a reason mandolines come with a hand guard for holding the vegetables while slicing. They are extremely sharp and it’s easy to cut yourself.

Roasted potato-wrapped haddock

Start to finish: 25 minutes

Servings: 4

1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil

2 medium Yukon gold potatoes

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Salt and ground black pepper

Dried thyme

1 1/4 pounds haddock fillets (about 2 large fillets)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Add oil to large cast-iron skillet (large enough to accommodate both haddock fillets in a single layer), then place skillet in oven to heat.

Meanwhile, use mandoline or food processor fitted with the thinnest slicing blade to slice potatoes into very thin rounds. The potato rounds should be as close to paper thin as possible. Set aside.

In small bowl mix, together mustard and mayonnaise. Set aside.

Remove skillet from oven and carefully cover bottom of it with a single layer of potato slices, overlapping edges slightly. Season potatoes with bit of salt, pepper and thyme.

Use paper towels to pat dry haddock fillets, then brush mustard-mayonnaise mixture over both sides of fish. Place haddock over potatoes in skillet, then arrange a second layer of potato slices over fish, covering it entirely. Season potatoes with salt, pepper and thyme, then mist them with cooking spray.

Return skillet to oven and bake for 14 minutes. Increase oven to broil and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until potatoes are nicely browned. Divide haddock into 4 pieces, being careful to leave potatoes in place as you serve fish.

Nutrition information per serving: 230 calories; 50 calories from fat (22 percent of total calories); 6 g fat (0.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 80 mg cholesterol; 15 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 28 g protein; 450 mg sodium.