An almost bacon-like quality that enables the shad itself to stand in for the real bacon that's often paired with this fish
2 whole filleted shad (about one pound each)
salt and pepper to taste
instant flour for dredging (preferably Wondra)
1/2 Granny Smith apple, cored and finely diced (skin on)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons hazelnut oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon plus tarragon leaves for garnish
1. Place a cast-iron skillet over high heat and heat until very hot, about 5 minutes.
2. Cut the shad fillets into light-meat sections (no skin) and dark-meat sections (skin attached). The light meat is an inner flap of the boned shad fillet that separates easily. (You should have about 1 pound of light meat and an equal amount of dark meat with skin attached. You will need only 1/4 pound dark meat with skin attached for this recipe; reserve 3/4 pound of the dark meat with skin attached for another use.)
3. Cut the 1 pound of light-meat shad fillets into 4 portions. Season it and the 1/4 pound of dark meat with salt and pepper, then flour lightly with instant flour.
4. When the pan is hot, add all the shad. Cook the light-meat fillets, turning frequently to make sure they don't stick, about 2 minutes per side. Remove when just cooked (they should be browned on the outside, just past pink on the inside). Continue to cook the dark-meat pieces with skin, pressing down with a spatula to make them as crunchy as possible. Remove when crackling brown.
5. Make the vinaigrette at the last minute: Beat together the apple, the vinegar, the hazelnut oil, and the 2 teaspoons of chopped tarragon.
6. To serve, divide the light-meat fillets among 4 plates. Top with diced apples removed from the vinaigrette with a slotted spoon. Mince the crunchy dark meat finely, and top the apples with that. Pour the remainder of the vinaigrette over and around the fish. Garnish with fresh tarragon leaves.
Tart Granny Smith apples act as the acidic agent here, lightening the richness of shad with a marvelous vinaigrette. And we employ an unusual technique to get the most out of your shad fillets: cooking the dark meat of the filet separately, until it's crunchy. The result is an almost bacon-like quality that enables the shad itself to stand in for the real bacon that's often paired with this fish. Serves 4