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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 Originally made with salt cod I happily use fresh or frozen.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.

Method.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Chill, covered in the freezer.
  4. 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.”