Mackerel with rosemary, garlic and lemon

HERE FISH is cooked by the same method one uses for making a roast of veal in Italy, and for the same reasons. The slow cooking in a covered pan keeps the flesh tender and juicy, its flavor uplifted by the fragrance of rosemary and garlic.

For 4 servings


  • 4 small mackerel, about ¾ pound each, gutted and scaled, but with heads and tails on
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • A small sprig of rosemary OR 1 teaspoon dried leaves, crumbled
  • Salt
  • Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
  • Freshly squeezed juice of ½ lemon


  1. 1. Wash the fish under cold running water, then pat thoroughly dry with paper towels. Make 3 parallel, diagonal cuts on both sides of each fish, cutting no deeper than the skin.
  2. 2. Put the olive oil and garlic in an oval roasting pan, if you have one, or a saute pan or other pot where the fish can subsequently fit side by side. Turn on the heat to medium, and cook the garlic until it becomes colored a pale gold. Put in the fish and the rosemary. Brown the fish well on both sides. Keep loosening it from the bottom with a metal spatula to keep it from sticking, and turn it over carefully to make sure it doesn’t break up. Put salt and pepper on both its sides.
  3. 3. Add the lemon juice, cover with a tight-fitting lid, turn the heat down to low, and cook for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the flesh feels tender when prodded with a fork. Serve promptly when done.

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