Day 10: Potato-Celeriac Brandade de Morue with Brussels Sprouts

15 Jan

Fishing being what it is, cod has gone in my Granny’s lifetime from being so cheap that you feed it to the cat, to being one of the most expensive fish you can find in the UK. If you haven’t read sustainability superhero Barton Seaver’s For Cod and Country, it’s a fabulous peek into the world of sustainable seafood with a great guide into buying sustainable fish year round. And it touches a bit on  what’s made our fish the way it is today.

However, I digress. Salt cod is one of those Mediterranean staples – whether you call it bacallao (Portuguese) or baccala (Italian), or if you mash it into potatoes for a brandade de morue (French) – that has the lovely advantage of aging well. Unlike fresh fish, it won’t go bad inside of days, and once it’s been thoroughly soaked in several changes of fresh water, it tastes only mildly saltier than its fresh counterpart. It also tastes very fresh, since it’s usually packed in salt quite soon after being caught, butchered and portioned.

Brandade de Morue is one of my all-time faves. It began its life as a peasant dish and still does pretty well with a slice of crusty bread, slathered with butter or aioli.

This is what soaked salt cod looks like. Be careful when you season the rest of the dish – go easy on the salt, since the fish will still remain quite salty even after a thorough soaking.

Celeriac, or what you Yanks call “celery root,” makes an earthy addition to mashed potatoes.

Potato-Celeriac Brandade de Morue: Mustard-whipped Potatoes and Celeriac, Salt Cod, and Brussels Sprouts

2 Servings

INGREDIENTS
3 pieces salt cod
4 medium potatoes, peeled
1/3 celeriac, peeled
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 sprig thyme
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon oil
2 cups Brussels sprouts, separated into leaves (you can keep the middle bit)
Water or chicken stock
1 teaspoon mustard

METHOD
Soak the salt cod in several changes of water in the fridge, for about 12 hours. Put the potatoes and celeriac in a pot and cover them with water. Bring to the boil and simmer until they are cooked through. Strain the potatoes and celeriac and pass them through a potato ricer. Season with 1/2 of the milk, the butter, and salt and pepper. Return to the pot and keep warm.

Strain the salt cod and put in a small pot, covered with fresh water. Bring to the boil and simmer until the fish just starting to become flaky. Remove from the heat and allow the cod to cool a little in the cooking water. When the water is just luke warm, remove the fish from the water and allow to drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Heat the remaining milk with the thyme and garlic in a small sauté pan until it comes to the boil. Remove from the heat and mash with the cod in a bowl. Keep the fish in small pieces – it’s a bit more interesting texturally that way.

Heat the oil in a sauté pan and add the sprout leaves. Season with salt and pepper and wilt slightly. Add a little water or chicken stock. (If you are not on rations you can cook them in chicken stock and butter). Cook just until the sprout leaves are cooked through. Remove from the heat.

Add the mustard to the potato mixture and mash it with the cod. Put in a lipped bowl and top with the sprout leaves. If you have some good olive oil, go ahead and drizzle it over the dish. Wish I could. Sigh.

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2 Responses to “Day 10: Potato-Celeriac Brandade de Morue with Brussels Sprouts”

  1. Ellen Hardy January 19, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

    Such an interesting way to use brussels sprouts- this way they won’t be watery like they are when you boil them.

    Where do you find salt cod? Or could you use fresh cod and omit the soaking?

  2. francoiseeats January 19, 2012 at 10:58 pm #

    Thanks Ellen! I got my salt cod from Fresh Direct. Typically I’ve seen them in places like Wholefoods, but I did a brief search online and you can get them from Spanish vendors like LaTienda.com at http://www.tienda.com/food/products/se-01.html?kw=salt%20cod&gclid=COyPj7qX3a0CFUOo4Aodvh-pmA

    Looks like Amazon sells them for a bit cheaper although I’ve never used that brand so can’t really guarantee the results. http://www.amazon.com/Fishermans-Fleet-Premium-Quality-Salt/dp/B0006HCG04

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