I have a confession to make. I have never had this dish before. I know, I know...how on earth is that possible? I lived in Porto for eight years, you would think I would come across this dish at some point. I have seen it in magazines, and heard family talk about it, but I never really wanted to make it. It actually originates from Porto.
The recipe was created by a gentleman called, José Valentim, or better known as, "Zé do Pipo". He won a cooking competion in the 1940's with this recipe.
Us Portuguese eat a lot of salt-Cod. I mean, I could eat it everyday! I love it and I think I just found a new favourite.
As I have never had it, coming across the recipe I found it rather intriguing. My version is served with a side of sautéed, garlicky, tri-coloured cabbage. Of course everyone will have their own version of this classic, I hope you enjoy mine. The original recipe calls for the salt-Cod loins to be placed in the centre intact. I flaked my salt-Cod after poaching them in the milk. I just felt it worked better for serving. You can leave yours intact if you wish. I also added some grated lemon zest to my mayonnaise. The zest lifts the richness of this dish and of course, compliments the fish as well.
Feel free to use home-made or store bought mayonnaise. I used the latter. I was hoping to have left-overs...didn't happen.
Bacalhau à Zé do Pipo ❦ Salt Cod and Mashed Potato Casserole with Mayonnaise
* Tools, Piping bag with star tip
* 48 Hours in advance recipe
For the fish:
700 g. salt-Cod loins, soaked*(48 hours before) About 3 whole loins
2 Onions, large diced
4 Garlic cloves, 3 roughly chopped, 1 left whole.
60 ml. Extra virgin olive oil
1 Bay leaf
1 L. Milk, Whole/fullfat
1 bunch Flat leaf parsley, to finish
12 Black olives, I used Kalamata Greek variety
Salt and Pepper to taste
For the mash:
1,5 kg. Potatoes, medium, whole, unpeeled
2 Egg yolks, beaten
2 tbsp. Butter, unsalted, optional
Milk reserved from poaching salt cod as needed to achieve a creamy consistency
6 tbsp. Mayonaise, homemade or store bought (not light variety)
1 tsp. Grated lemon zest
For the greens:
800 g. Mixed cabbage, such as Savoy Cabbage, Red Cabbage, Spring Greens, Kale
60 ml. Extra virgin olive oil
2 Garlic cloves, sliced
1 tsp. Crushed red peper flakes, optional
Salt and pepper to taste
* To desalt the Cod:
In a large container or bowl, place Cod and cover with cold water. Change the water at least four times a day over 48 hours. Drain water and Cod is ready to use. Keep refridgerated at all times during the process.
1. In a large pot, place the whole, unpeeled potatoes on the boil in plenty water. Cook until tender about 30 mins., or until a knive inserted pierces through them easily. They will absorb less water this way, making them incredibly fluffy.
2. Place Cod in a pot with the milk, bay leaf and the whole garlic clove, and poach gently on medium-low heat for 15 mins., uncovered.
3. Once done, remove Cod to a plate. When cool enough to handle, remove skin and pin bones. Flake into peices and reserve. Taste Cod to determine how de-salted it is so that you can adjust seasonings from this point. Using a sieve over a bowl, strain milk and reserve for the mashed potatoes.
4. In a frying pan over medium heat, sauté onions and the 3 chopped garlic cloves for a few minutes stirring frequently. You do not want the onions to gain any colour, just soften. Add the flaked Cod and sauté 2 mins. more. Add a little of the poaching milk and simmer 1 minute more. Turn off heat. Add chopped fresh parsley and stir through. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.
5. Drain potatoes and peel. Place back into the same pot and using a masher or ricer reduce the potatoes into mash. Add the butter and mix well with a wooden spoon. Slowly add the reserved poached milk, just a little at a time, stirring with each addition. You must use your judgement here. You want firm, pipeable mash. Not a runny mess. YOU WILL NOT USE ALL THE MILK. Add the egg yolks and stir until completly incorporated ( potatoes should be cool so eggs will not curdle) adjust seasonings to taste.
6. In a bowl mix mayonnaise with lemon zest, reserve until ready to assemble casserole.
7. Pre-heat oven to 200°C
8. Put mashed potatoes into piping bag and begin piping rosettes all around the dish to the rim. Leave centre free for salt Cod. Place Cod in centre, smooth with the back of a spoon and cover with mayonnaise. Finish piping mashed potatoes decoratively, as in photo. Place olives on top pushing them into mayonnaise gently, about half way.
9. Place in pre-heated oven to gratin, about 20-25 mins. or until light golden brown.
10. Meanwhile, for the greens, heat olive oil in frying pan and add garlic and sauté briefly on medium heat, about 1 minute and while stirring, so garlic doesn't burn.
Add greens and lower heat, add 2 tbsp. water and cover. Cook for 1 minute and turn off heat. Do not remove lid. Greens will continue to steam until ready to use.
I used rings to mold for serving and decorated my plates with an extra quenelle of mayonnaise, chopped olives, roasted red peppers, parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.
Serve with a chilled Portuguese Vinho Verde and a side of garlic sautéed greens.