Salt cod puree aka brandade de morue

In France, if you call a woman “morue*” you’re calling her names ! This is puzzling since the most delicious dish is made out of “morue”.  (* morue = salt cod)

Idiomes have their own misterious ways. Thankfully the ways to a delicious brandade are much more straightforward. It’s a simple and substancial dish which always makes me daydream about Portugal (a nation of salt cod suppliers if any ), and of sturdy sailors as I’m assuming they ate loads of brandade.

Ingredients

  • 500g salt cod ( morue )
  • 300g potatoes
  • 1,25L milk
  • 25cl liquid cream
  • Thyme, fresh parsley
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, sweet chili ( piment d’Espelette )

Two confessions: 1. Figuring out the differences between all kind of creams I could find in France and those available in the US is still an on-going matter. For this recipe I chose to give half-half a try. 2. It’s actually the first time I could find proper salt cod, so I’m quite excited to give this recipe a go, and to do so I skipped my son’s bath today. I know he won’t hold a grudge, bless him !

Recipe

1. You need to freshen the salt cod to remove the excess of salt. All it takes is anticipation : place the fish in a bowl of water at least 24 hours before starting to cook and change the water 3 times. Some people go with milk instead of water which is said to be quicker. I kept the cod in the fridge during this step.

Salt cod in its milk bath

2. Prepare the potatoes: peel them and slice them about 3mm thick. In a pan add the garlic cloves : still in their skin but smashed so they release their flavor. It comes in handy to know exactly how many cloves you throw in because afterwards you’ll to fish for them and you don’t want to forget one in there. Add thyme and cover with 50cl milk and the cream.

Season with salt, with a light hand as the fish itself is already salty. It’s easier to season again once the dish is finished if needed. Bring to a boil. Then cook for 20 minutes on low heat, making sure that the potatoes don’t cling to the pan.

After 20 minutes remove the garlic cloves and thyme. Mash the potatoes and add the milk they’ve been cooked in. I did not add all the milk because I like a creamy texture. You can do as you see fit.

3. Strain the fish. In a pan cover it with 75cl of cold milk. Cook on low heat for 10min. Well, I actually cooked longer, because the fish did not look well cooked. As always, a little playing by ear does not hurt. Once cooked, remove the fish from the milk and mix with the mashed potatoes until you get a fairly smooth preparation. Add a splash of olive oil and season with a zest of sweet chili. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to your liking.

4. Serve with fresh parsley and green salad as it is a substancial dish.