Portugese Bacalhau com Nata Feito à Moda da Enca Mello
Purchased from the Parnell Estate in Canton, Texas in 1988.
- Contributed by Cat's Recipes Y-Group
- 1½ pounds dried salt cod, cut in 4 pieces
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced thin
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1½ pounds new or California long white potatoes, peeled and cut into very small dices
- ¼ cup water
- 1¾ cups milk
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- Soak the salt cod in the refrigerator 24 hours (or better yet, 48 hours) in several changes of cold water (keep the bowl covered so the whole refrigerator doesn't smell of fish).
- Drain the cod, rinse, and drain well again.
- Remove bones and skin, and with your fingers pull the cod into small shreds; set aside.
- In a large heavy skillet set over very low heat, sauté the onion in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil about 15 minutes until very soft and golden, stirring now and then.
- Meanwhile, stir-fry the potatoes in the remaining oil in a second large heavy skillet over moderately low heat about 2 minutes until they begin to color; add the water, turn the heat to its lowest point, cover, and cook 15 minutes; set off the heat and reserve, still covered.
- As soon as the onions are softly golden, mix in the cod and ½ cup of the milk, cover, and cook over lowest heat, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.
- While the cod cooks, prepare a white sauce:.
- Melt the butter in a small heavy saucepan over moderate heat and blend in the flour; add the remaining milk and heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth — about 3 minutes.
- Blend in the white pepper and reserve.
- When the cod has only 10 minutes more to cook, preheat the oven to very hot (450°F).
- When the cod is done, mix in the potatoes, white sauce, and cream.
- Transfer to a buttered shallow 3-quart earthenware casserole or au gratin pan.
- Bake uncovered for 15 minutes, lower the oven temperature to moderate (350°F), and bake uncovered 25 minutes longer or until bubbly and tipped with brown.
- Serve at once.