Somebody once said “ If the simple things in life don’t put a smile on your face then you will never be truly happy”. I couldn’t agree more and I was thinking about this the other day while making a classic brandade de morue.
This truly wonderful Provencal dish is a great way to showcase and elevate two simple ingredients like salt cod and potatoes and turn them into something special. It’s also simplicity personified and utterly delicious!
This rich Mediterranean spread, known as brandade in France, baccalà mantecato in Italy, and brandada de bacalao in Spain is said to have originated in the town of Nîmes, a popular destination in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France.
The refined Nîmes version of the salt cod Brandade is made with aioli sauce and usually complemented with a leafy, green salad and garlic toasts but I personally love the addition of mashed potatoes for a little added texture and flavour. For a basic Brandade recipe, soak 200g of salt cod in cold water for 24 hours, changing the water at least once or twice.
Drain it, and then place in a pan with 3-4 black peppercorns, a couple of bay leaves, 3-4 peeled garlic cloves, ½ a small, peeled onion and 500ml of milk. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer over a gentle heat for 5 minutes. Lift out the cod and allow to cool. Cook 250g of peeled and diced potatoes in the milk until soft (add a little more milk if necessary).
Remove any bones and skin from the fish. Remove the peppercorns, bay leaves and onion from the milk and add the flaked salt cod. Purée the cod, garlic and potatoes in a food processor with enough milk to make a soft mash and add 4 or 5 tablespoons of olive oil to make a soft, creamy consistency. Season with a little salt and pepper, and I like a good squeeze of lemon juice in mine, but many would regard it as sacrilege.
The Brandade preparation can also make a great and tasty ravioli filling and, all over Spain it’s very often seen stuffed into piqullio peppers and baked in the oven. For a lighter, creamier version you can stir in a little whipped cream and it also works really well with a little grated cheese on top and grilled until golden brown.
For my recipe, I’m adding a little saffron and serving it with spicy chorizo and local wild asparagus that you can easily find in markets all over Majorca right now. This really makes a delicious, simple meal with some crusty bread and little glass of chilled white wine…what could be better?
Gambas al Ajillo
Spanish restaurants are awash with garlic, from olives marinated with it, to classic aioli and gazpacho, to clams and gambas al ajillo.
- 350g peeled prawns
- 100ml extra virgin olive oil
- 3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- red chili, finely chopped
- 2tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- ½ lemon, juiced
Heat the oil in a small frying pan. Add the garlic and chilli and sizzle gently for a few seconds. Just as the garlic is beginning to take on a hint of colour, add the prawns. Cook over a high heat for about 30 seconds until the prawns are golden on the outside yet still moist inside. Remove from the heat; finish by sprinkling with parsley and lemon juice and serve still sizzling with crusty bread.
Marc Fosh restaurant is temporarily closed due to Covid restrictions but he is offering an excellent home delivery service of Michelin quality food. For the menu, prices and to place an order visit www.foshfoodathome.com