I visit Wales regularly to visit my close friends and family in Cardiff, and quite often we head straight to my favourite fishmonger as soon as I arrive. My eyes are always drawn to the gorgeous, but at the same time ugly, John Dory; it looks at me and says “cook me”! Once I bought one that was almost two kilos (over four pounds) – the fishmonger thought I was crazy (which I am), but after a very long lunch two of us finished the whole fish! The creaminess of the Tolosa beans makes them the perfect match for this dish.
Start by making the alubias de Tolosa. Put all of the ingredients in a large saucepan with 1.5litres of water (but don’t add any salt at this stage).
Bring slowly to the boil and cook for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat right down and cook very gently for 2 hours. When the beans are almost ready, add some salt and keep cooking slowly until they are tender but still holding their shape and the sauce is really thick.
When almost cooked, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F /Gas 3). Scatter the potatoes and garlic in the bottom of a large roasting tin. Place the John Dory on top, drizzle with plenty of olive oil and season well. Roast for 30–40 minutes until just cooked. Test by inserting a sharp knife into the flesh; when it pulls away from the bone easily, it’s done.
Meanwhile, fry the pancetta in a dry pan until crispy. Serve the John Dory, potatoes and garlic with the cooked beans scattered with the crispy pancetta.
By José Pizarro
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