02 May 2011

Bacalhau com Capa de Broa

Things happen when you have parties.  You might attempt some brown sugar cupcakes with fig filling, and maybe they end up looking like the Bad News Bears of baked goods.  And maybe your honey marscapone frosting curdles and has to be binned.  You might even be up at 2 am on a Saturday night praying that your yellow layer cake doesn't go the way of the more ambitious cupcakes, while you watch Vampire Diary reruns to stay awake until the cake is cool enough to come out of the pans.

Or it might just happen that you decide to try out a new bacalhau recipe on your Portuguese in-laws for Mother's Day (May 1 here this year), and while you are up to your elbows in shreds of bacalhau and cornbread crumbs your in-laws show up an hour before you expect them.

Wine, anyone?

But you can never tell how parties will end up.  Because maybe your lovely mother-in-law and very excellent sister-in-law rave about your bacalhau.  Maybe your little nephew finishes his whole plate.  Maybe the entire pan is nearly gone before you remember to take a photo of your success. And maybe this turns out to be the very bestest bacalhau dish you have ever made.


5 out of 5 Fins
The creamy base of shredded bacalhau in a Parmesan and onion sauce is perfectly balanced with the crumbled and crunchy topping of "broa," or Portuguese cornbread.  Broa is different from American cornbread in that it is much dryer and with a very hard rind-- but day-old US cornbread would certainly work in this recipe as well.  Bacalhau Boy barely came up for air as he wolfed it down, and with five other Portuguese relatives (the Bacalhau Bunch?) giving it two thumbs up, it must be a five-fin dish for sure.

Bacalhau com Capa de Broa
(Bacalhau with a Cornbread Crust)
adapted from Portuguese Gourmet
serves 4-6

4 bacalhau loins, soaked and de-salted
2 bay leaves
2/3 cup olive oil, divided
2 onions, sliced into thin half-moons
4 cloves of garlic, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 cups of Parmesan cream sauce (recipe below)
2 cups of crumbed broa or day-old cornbread

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add the soaked bacalhau and the bay leaves.  Boil for 5-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the bacalhau pieces.  Remove the bacalhau and set aside to cool until you can easily handle them.  Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the water for the sauce.

3. In the meantime, heat 1/3 cup of oil over a medium heat and add the onions.  Let cook until limp, then add the garlic. Cover and turn heat to low, and let steam for about 5 minutes.

4. In the meantime, make the Parmesan Cream Sauce:

Parmesan Cream Sauce
1 1/2 cups of water from boiling the bacalhau
1 tbsp butter, softened
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste

Bring the water to a rapid boil, and reduce to about half.  Combine the butter and flour to make a smooth paste, and then add to the "fish water".  Whisk in rapidly until completely blended.  Add the cream and parmesan cheese, stirring to incorporate.  Cook over a medium heat until it is thick enough to just coat the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat and add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to your taste.

5. Once the bacalhau is cooled, remove the skin and spine and shred the pieces.  Add to the onion and garlic mixture.  Cover and let steam together on a very low heat for about 5 minutes to really blend the flavors.

6. Add the parsley and the sauce to the fish/onion mixture, and stir to combine.  Pour the mixture into a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.

7. Mix the broa crumbs with the remaining 1/3 cup of olive oil.  Top the bacalhau mixture completely with the crumbs.  Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes.


  1. Amiga, you seem to like codfish a lot no??!!! Hehehe, have you already tried Grilled codfish with punched potatoes?? Bacalhau assado com batatas a murro?

  2. Oh, yes, that one is Bacalhau Boy's favorite!! It is tasty. I will have to make that on the blog.

    Haha, and I'm not the biggest lover of codfish yet. But after 365 recipes, maybe??

  3. Lol, at least with batatas a murro, you can still have some nice exercise, punching the potatoes, cooking and boxing at the same time. If only Rocky did know about that, hehehe