Imagine you make an emulsion of garlic and olive oil. What you get is an aioli. Now add salt cod to the mix and what you obtain is a bacalao brandade. That is the basics of this recipe. That simple.
The original bacalao brandade goes back in time all the way to the 16th century, when salt cod was first introduced to the Iberian Peninsula, all the way from the Basque Country and into Catalonia along the beautiful Pyrenees mountains. Back then, salt cod was the only fish available to the inhabitants from the inland provinces. This meant that particularly during the lent period, this fish became extremely popular, prompting many traditional recipes to be created in order to make the best use of it.
Perhaps one of the most basic ones is the bacalao brandade, a simple emulsion of garlic, olive oil and salt cod that was made with the only help of a mortar. A reminder of how little is needed to come up with some delicious food.
Over the time, the basic recipe was progressively evolved and many different versions started to appear all around. Other ingredients were added up in order to balance out the strong flavours of the original recipe… Potatoes, milk or even cream were intended to smooth out the final flavours as well as the texture.
Today’s recipe shows off the bacalao brandade in all its glory, just spread over a slice of good bread and topped with a Basque guindilla chilli; a superb combination that I am sure you will love.
And remember, the bacalao brandade is a very versatile preparation, and of course, today’s recipe is not the only way to enjoy it. You should definitely try our super exquisite piquillo peppers stuffed with bacalao brandade. Alternatively you can also use it to stuff artichokes, to make a brandade tortilla, a mushrooms and brandade ‘revuelto’, some bacalao brandade fritters or even croquetas.
- 4 slices Country loaf bread
- Corn Salad
- 4 units Guindilla chillies
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- For the bacalao brandade:
- 300 g Potatoes
- 450 g Salt cod (bacalao)
- 150 ml Milk
- 4 cloves Garlic
- 100 ml Extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- First of all, for this recipe we need to desalt your salt cod. If you haven’t done it in advance, soak the cod in a big bowl with plenty of water, skin up, for 48 to 72 hours, renewing the water every 6-8 hours if possible.
- Once your bacalao is desalted, place the potatoes –skin on– in a saucepan with abundant water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes or until they are soft. Remove and leave aside to cool. Peel the potatoes, mash them with a fork and reserve.
- Place the bacalao in a pot with water and 50ml of milk. Bring to a boil over a medium heat. When it starts boiling, remove from the heat and leave aside to cool. Take the bacalao out, remove its skin and any bones that it might have. Then mash to separate all the fish flakes. Reserve.
- In a small saucepan, heat the rest of the milk over a medium temperature until it starts bubbling. Keep warm.
- Heat some olive oil together with the crushed garlic cloves over a medium temperature, so that the oil gets infused with the garlic. Cook for 10 minutes, then discard the garlic cloves and keep the oil warm.
- Place the bacalao and the potatoes in a blender. Add a bit of the warm milk and start blending whilst you slowly pour the rest of the milk, little by little.
- Once you are done, repeat the same operation with the garlic-infused oil, pouring it little by little whilst you blend the rest of the ingredients so that it emulsifies. Season to taste. Your bacalao brandade is now ready.
- Toast your bread slices to your taste in a toaster. Spread the bacalao brandade on the toast, then top with a guindilla and some corn salad. Drizzle with some olive oil and serve immediately.