There are certain things that if I see on a menu, I will
almost always order them, and brandade is one of those things. This amazing
dish from the south of France can be made many different ways, but it’s usually
some sort of combination of salt cod, potato, garlic, and olive oil.
Once made, it can be eaten as is, or turned into a beautifully
browned and bubbly gratin. Actually, forget I said that, as this should always
be baked and eaten piping hot, ideally with some homemade crostini.
The biggest (and only) challenge with this dish is handling
the salt cod. It needs to be soaked in cold water for a day or two before you
can work with it. However, depending on
which salt cod you use, the time this takes can vary. If you’ve never used it before, follow the instructions
herein, but maybe cut off a small piece once it’s soaked, cook it in a little
bit of water, and test it for salt content. It should still be kind of salty, but not unpleasantly so.
As I mention in the video, the final product should get
precariously close to being too salty, without going past that point. It’s going to be similar to things like smoked salmon, prosciutto, or salami. This is why you should not do
any salting, including when you boil the
potatoes, until everything comes together.
This is a great recipe for entertaining, since you can make
it ahead of time, and bake when you’re ready to serve. You can use one large
shallow dish, or do a smaller size portion like I did here. Remember everything
is cooked; so all you need to do is heat it through, brown the top, and serve.
I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!
Ingredients for about 24 snack-sized portions:
1 pound skinless salt cod fillet, soaked in cold water for
24-36 hours, changing water 4-5 times
2 bay leaves
6 springs thyme
1 1/2 cups whole milk
pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
8 large garlic cloves, peeled, halved
1 pound gold potatoes, cooked until tender with garlic
1/2 lemon, juiced, or to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp crème fraiche for the top, optional
– Bake at 450 F. for about 20, or until browned