This classic salt cod dish is a specialty of the city of Nîmes in the Languedoc region in the south of France. There is hot debate about whether this dish should have potatoes added, or whether it should just be made with cream and olive oil and blended to a creamy and silky dip - I prefer the potato version, and here I have developed my own recipe which is more of a gratin then a dip, and can be served as a main meal, as well as a starter with deep fried croutons, toast or baguette.
750g prepared and desalinated salt cod
sprig of fresh thyme
6 cloves garlic (peeled and pounded to a purée in a pestle and mortar)
large handful of fresh parsley (leaves stripped from the stems and chopped finely)
50ml hot milk
Juice of 1 lemon
salt and white pepper
150ml olive oil
breadcrumbs (fresh breadcrumbs are best or Panko crumbs)
This classic salt cod dish is a specialty of the city of Nîmes in the Languedoc region in the south of France. There is hot debate about whether this dish should have potatoes added, or whether it should just be made with cream and olive oil and blended to a creamy, smooth and silky dip - I prefer the potato version, and here I have developed my own recipe which is more of a gratin then a dip, and can be served as a main meal for two people, as well as a starter with deep fried croutons, toast or baguette for four or more people.
Prepare the cod at least 24 hours beforehand. Soak it in water for 24 to 48 hours, changing the water twice daily. Then in a large saucepan, add the soaked cod, bay leaf and thyme sprig, cover them with water and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes or until the cod is tender, do NOT simmer too long as the cod will become chewy. Remove the cod, drain and allow to cool, then remove all skin and bones, and gently flake the flesh into a bowl.
Peel and cut the potatoes into small chunks before boiling until soft and tender. Drain and then add the hot milk and mash or rather crush the potatoes roughly, so there are still some discernible pieces of potato as well as mash. Add the salt and pepper and season to taste; then add the olive oil and beat well into the potatoes mixture.
Add the parsley, lemon juice and minced garlic to the potatoes and mix thoroughly before gently folding in the salt cod.
Spoon the mixture into a large oiled tian or oven-proof dish, then scatter some bread crumbs over the top and bake in a pre-heated oven 200C/400F for 15 to 20 minutes or until the brandade is bubbling and the breadcrumbs are golden brown and crunchy.
Serve hot with salad and crusty bread for a main meal, or serve as an appetiser with deep fried croutons, toast or slices of baguette.
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