December 18, 2017

Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá




Ingredients:
2 1/2 lb salt cod
2 1/1 lb Russet potatoes, peeled
1 large or 2 medium onions, sliced into 1/4 inch half moons
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
1/3 cup black olives



Directions:
2-3 days before you want to make the dish, place the cod in a resealable gallon bag or leak-proof container. Fill with cool water. Refrigerate at least 24 hours and up to 72, changing the water twice a day.

The day you want to serve the dish:

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 2 1/2 quart baking dish with olive oil

Bring 2 pots of water to a boil. Add the potatoes to one and the salt cod to another. Boil the cod for 10 minutes or until easily flaked with a fork. Drain the cod. Flake and set aside. Boil the potatoes until fork tender, 20-30 minutes. Drain. Slice into 1/4 inch rounds. Meanwhile, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil in a skillet until lightly caramelized, about 20 minutes.

Place a thin layer of onions on the bottom of the baking dish. Layer the potatoes, cod and onions in the dish, alternating and ending with onions. Cover in foil and bake 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 15 minutes or until crispy. Garnish with egg, olives, and parsley. Serve.


My thoughts:
Our trip to Portugal three years ago is one of my favorite memories. We loved the food, the people, the weather, the beautiful cities! We had thoroughly planned out our trip food-wise and had a ton of great dishes. We also went to a few grocery stores and saw stacks and stacks of bacalhau, salt cod. Literal stacks! Way more than they had fresh fish. It makes sense because bacalhau is of of the main ingredients in many of their dishes, including the famous Pastéis de Bacalhau (aka Bolinhos de Bacalhau, Portuguese Cod Cakes). While US grocery stores do not have stacks of salt cod, it is surprisingly easy to find. I've never been to a supermarket with a seafood counter that didn't have it. It is normally on a shelf near fresh seafood. If not, ask, it should be easy for a seafood counter to source for you. It is dried so you need to buy it and rehydrate it before you use it.

This dish originated in Porto (one of the cities we visited) where it is apparently frequently served on Christmas Eve. I can see why--it is festive but very simple to make. Most of the ingredients can be prepped ahead of time. You do have to soak the cod but I would suspect most Portuguese are used to that and it really is very easy. The dish combines pretty much all of my favorite things: seafood, hard-boiled eggs, olives, caramelized eggs, and potatoes. Honestly, it was like it was tailored made for me! Despite the salt cod being, well, salted, the salt is rinsed off during the soaking process so it is not a salty dish--the saltiest bit is from the olives. 


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