In France it is called Brandade, in Italy Baccala – a South European peasant dish of supreme subtlety found all-round the Mediterranean. Francesco de Mosto introduced me to it in Venice and then Rick Steyne inspired my version with Tapenade. Originally made with salt cod I happily use fresh or frozen. It makes for a stunning informal lunch eaten with tapenade toasties (see below) salad and a flinty cold Sancerre. As always the recipe is for 4-6 people.
Materials for the Brandade.
- 1 side cod.
- 1 fish stock cube.
- 1 tsp each of dried thyme, sea salt, celery salt.
- 2 tsp crushed black pepper.
- 1 clove elephant garlic chopped.
- 1 Meyer lemon sliced.
- ½ cup olive oil.
- ¼ cup of heavy cream.
- 1 clove elephant garlic minced.
- Sea salt, celery salt, ground nutmeg, heavy pinch of allspice, black pepper salt to taste and squeeze of lemon juice to taste.
- Cover cod with cold water, add the first 5 lines of ingredients inc the sliced lemon. Bring to the boil for 5 minutes. Reserve the fish and discard the water.
- Pound the fish together with the seasonings and garlic with a large fork, adding the olive oil, cream slowly until you have a thick paste – feel your way to more olive oil and cream if you can – the final mix should taste subtly of both.
- Chill, covered in the freezer.
- Tapenade. Lightly sauté two cloves minced elephant garlic in butter and olive oil, adding two tins of salted anchovies, a hand full of chopped black olives, a tablespoon of capers and black pepper. Use a wooden spoon to beat the mix into a glossy thick paste in the skillet. Reserve and chill in the freezer. Serve on well toasted multi grain brown bread as a dip for the brandade.”