Bacalhau (bak-ahl-YOW), or salt cod, has been produced for at least 500 years, since the time of the European discoveries of the New World. In those days there were no refrigeration, and drying and salting cod was the perfect technique to preserve the fish and to also improve the taste.
Bacalhau com natas is cod layered with potatoes and onions, drenched in cream and baked until golden brown and is especially popular over special days like Easter and Christmas.
Making this dish requires a little bit of planning as you need to soak the cod and change the water several times to remove the extra salt. It is however extremely easy to prepare and worth the wait!
Bacalhau com Natas (Salt cod with potatoes and cream)
1 day for soaking. Preparation & cooking time: 01 h 30 min.
450 g salt cod
125 ml olive oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 kg potatoes, peeled and diced
½ cup Parmesan, grated
1 ½ cream
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ cup breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
1) Soak the dried salted cod in cold water with the skin side up for 24 hours, changing the water about 4 times. Drain and discard the water.
2) Preheat oven to 200 ᵒC.
3) Place the cod in a pan with enough water to cover; bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the cod from the pan; remove and discard the skin and bones. Cut the cod into chunks and set aside.
4) In a large skillet, heat about 3 tbsp. of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for 20 min., stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent. Remove from pan.
5) Add another 3 tbsp. of olive oil to your skillet and add potatoes. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the fish is lightly browned and partially cooked through. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
6) Finally, add another 3 tbsp. of olive oil to the pan and sauté the flaked cod until it is nicely browned. Remove from skillet and set aside.
7) Grease a medium-sized, ovenproof casserole dish. Spread 1/3 of the onions on the bottom of the dish. Layer 1/2 of the potatoes over the onions and 1/2 of the cod over the potatoes. Sprinkle 1/3 of the grated cheese over the cod and season with salt and pepper.
8) Repeat with another layer of 1/3 of the onions, the remaining potatoes and cod and 1/3 of the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Finish with a final layer of the remaining onions. Pour the cream over and sprinkle with nutmeg. Mix the remaining cheese with the breadcrumbs and spread evenly over the top of the dish.
9) Place the dish in the preheated oven and bake for 35 to 45 min., or until cooked through and it’s nice and brown on top. Serve immediately with a crisp green salad and ReedValley Chardonnay/Pinot Noir.