Perhaps salted cod isn't on the top of your grocery list. But if you were living 400 years ago, it probably would be – that is assuming you could read and write the list to begin with!
Salting cod during the 17th century was a popular way of preserving. Salt was cheap, it allowed fisherman to make longer voyages preserving their catch along the way, and it was flavorful.
It has many different names that you will no doubt recognize. In France it is known as 'morue', in Spain 'bacalao', and in Italy 'baccalà'. And each country has their own recipes that have been passed down through the ages transforming the hard white salt covered fillets into something unexpectedly delicious and moist.
Brandade de Morue is an old French recipe (and there are countless variations) consisting of salted cod, garlic, olive oil, milk, and potatoes mashed together. Today in France it is often served during the holidays as a dip alongside bread fried in oil or crudités.
I say: why wait for the holidays?
Brandade de Morue
8oz of salted cod
4 cups milk
4 medium yukon gold potatoes
1 cup olive oil
7 whole cloves of garlic peeled
Bouquet garni: 2 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 sprig rosemary
1. Soak salted cod in cold water, changing water frequently, according to box instructions. Sometimes this is overnight or just a few hours. Cod will be malleable and have a pleasantly salty taste when it is ready to use. If it is still pungent, hard, or overly salty continue to soak in cold water
2. Cook potatoes as you would for mashed potatoes: place spuds in a large pot with cold water and bring up to a gentle simmer. When they are easily pierced with a knife, peel skin off and place in a Food Processor or blender.
3. Heat milk to a simmer with bouquet garni. Add cod, cut into 3"- 4" pieces (make sure there is no skin or bones) and cook for 10 minutes. Do not boil or it will make the cod tough.
4. In a small saucepot bring olive oil with garlic to a low simmer on low heat and confit cloves. They are done when easily pierced with a knife.
5. In a food prosessor add cod, potatoes, garlic, and 1/2 cup olive oil and pulse. Blend in a cup of the milk from the cooking liquid (minus bouquet garni). The mixture should resemble a thick paste. Continue to add olive oil and milk little by little until mixture has a nice dip consistency.
6. Spoon into ramekins and reheat in oven before serving. To brown the top put under the broiler. Serve with crostini and crunchy garden fresh vegtables. Can be made a week ahead.