Portuguese Style Salted Cod & Potato Casserole from Brazil
There is nothing I love more than simple and hearty food with amazing & fresh ingredients.
Every day I grow just a little more fond of salted cod, bacalhau. Ans though the stuff we get in the US in the little wooden boxes doesn't compare to the thick slabs of salted cod, available all over the markets in the Iberian peninsula, doesn't mean it stops me from using it in stews and dishes where perhaps the cut of the fish doesnt have to be of the most top notch quality.
What began out as a necessity on those large voyages when the Portuguese set out across the Atlantic to colonize Brazil, has since evolved into a culinary delight that is quintessentially Brazilian.
There are several versions of bacalhau or salted cod stew and I can't wait to continue rustling up its many versions in our kitchen.
This has boiled potatoes, oil cured olives - kalamata or a mix, boiled eggs, roasted red peppers, sautéed onions and poached, flaked salted cod that are all baked together in layers with generous glugs of olive oil.
Wonderfully flavorful all together, just the ingredient list makes me want to do a happy dance!
I recommend this for a weekend dinner or when company is over. It makes quite an impression, I guarantee served in your gorgeous Dutch oven or clay pot!
Some wonderful bread and a nice crisp white wine is all that you need.
Mind you, you'll need to begin the recipe about 24 hours in advance to de-salt the cod and this is a step by no means you want to miss.
Recipe forPortuguese Style Bacalahau, Salted Cod Casserole from Brazil
2 lbs. salted cod (bacalhau)
2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes
4-6 boiled eggs
1/2 -3/4 cup oil cured pitted olives - kalamata or a mixed
3-4 red, yellow or orange peppers or a combination- roasted at home or store bought
2-3 yellow onions (to yield 4 cups sliced)
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 cup good quality olive oil
For poaching fish:
2 bay leaves
1 tsp whole pepper corns
1 small yellow onion or 2 shallots
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
24 hours earlier:
Cod fish – De-salt by immersing the salted cod in a large pot of water for 24 hours. Keep changing the water over the 24 hour period 4 times.
The next day - 2 hours before serving :
Pre-heat the oven to 450 deg. F.
Eggs: Hard boil the eggs. Peel and cut into 1/4" thick circles. Set aside.
Onions: Peel, discard skin and ends. Slice into 1/4" thick semi-circles and set aside.
Shallots or yellow onion: Peel, discard skin and ends. roughly dice and set aside.
Bell peppers: Cut way the woody top, seeds and membranes. Place on a roasting pan sprayed with non-stick spray and roast for 30 minutes or until black spots appear. Place in a zip-loc bag or a bowl covered with plastic wrap to steam. Peel the peppers and and set aside.
Cod: Drain the water from the cod one final time and replace with fresh water making sure the fish is completely covered with water. Add 2 bay leaves, roughly diced shallots and black pepper corns. Cover with a lid and on medium-high heat bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the stove and remove from the heat. Once slightly cool, with two forks or clean hands flake the fish and set aside.
Potatoes: In the same broth leftover from poaching the fish, boil the potatoes covering the pot with a lid but allowing some of the steam to escape. Cook until tender all the way through when pierced with the knife. Check after 30 mins and cook 5 mins more at a time until perfectly tender but not overcooked as for mashed potatoes.
Drain and run cold water in the colander. Once cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes and slice into 1/4" thick circles.
Parsley for garnish: Finely chop and set aside.
Reduce the oven to 375 deg. F.
In a large stew pot, brazier or a Dutch oven - one that can go from stove pot to oven, heat 1/4 cup olive oil on medium-high heat. Sauté the onions for 10-15 minutes until softened.
Transfer 1/2 the onions to a bowl.
Add 1/2 the potatoes over the onions in a single layer.
In a single layer, add 1/2 the quantity of :
the fish, the roasted peppers, the eggs and the olives. Sprinkle with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Add the remaining ingredients in this order:
potatoes over in a single layer, fish, roasted peppers, eggs and olives. Sprinkle 1 tsp salt & 1/2 ground black pepper.
Drizzle 1/2 cup olive oil all over the casserole.
Cover with a tight fitting lid and bake for about 40 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve immediately.
Enjoy with some crusty bread!
Make ahead tips:
To save time on the day of serving, roast the peppers, poach the fish and boil the eggs the day before serving. Do not boil the potatoes the day before and do this the day of serving instead because potatoes tend to become mealy once refrigerated.