14 September 2011

Bacalhau com Amêijoas

I feel like I should apologize.  I have nothing much to say about this cod and clam and crunchy potato dish.

Not that it wasn't great!  It really was.  But right now, all I can think about is packing for my annual trip to visit with my family in the US.

Have I gotten presents for everyone?  
What will the range of weather be-- jacket, or just sweater weather?
What if I save space by leaving all my toiletries here and stopping at Target to pick up necessities right after arriving?  
All the sightseeing-- have I gotten tickets for the high-demand museums yet?  OH!  That reminds me... walking shoes...

But in fact this dish WAS good and I have the picture to prove it.  I really want to share.  So here is the most important info, via a brief packing parable:

I managed it on a night when I was categorizing and re-categorizing my sweaters and t-shirts all over my bed, wondering what combinations of layers/colors/hefts would be most appropriate for late September in Virginia and what the packing implications of these combinations would be.

(In other words: you can multi-task, stress out for no real reason and STILL manage this simple and yummy and healthy homemade dish.  Keeper!)

5 out of 5 fins
Bacalhau Boy took one bite of this and said, "Oh, I think we have a five fins right here."  He then put his head down and ate quickly and silently, pausing only to discard his empty clam shells to make room for more on his plate.  As for me, I thought the simple flavor combinations worked really well here-- I could taste the garlic and great olive oil, and the sea brine was doubly lovely coming from both cod and clam.  The star player was the texture of the crunchy potato-- it requires a bit of planning, but not much actual work.  It is worth every minute of the wait and healthier than the traditional fried potatoes.

Bacalhau com Amêijoas
Cod with Clams
serves 4

4 medium-large thin-skinned white potatoes (about 750g)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 pound of bacalhau, soaked and desalted
1 1/2 pounds of small, sweet clams in the shell
1/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 375F (180C) with a greased baking sheet inside.

2. Boil a medium-sized pot of salted water.  Cube the potatoes into small, roughly equal pieces.  Boil the potatoes for about 5 minutes.  Drain the water from the pot, and put it back on the heat-- with the potatoes inside-- stirring them around for about a minute.  This should dry the outsides of the potatoes, which will help them crisp up.

3. Once the oven is preheated, scatter the potatoes on the heated baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake them for about 20 minutes, stirring them around halfway through.  After twenty minutes, turn the oven off and leave the potatoes inside while you proceed with the rest of the meal.

4. Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large, deep saute pan.  Add the garlic and cover, cooking slowly.  In the meantime, shred the bacalhau roughly, leaving the pieces as big as you can while taking out the bones.

5. After the garlic has cooked for about 5 minutes, add the bacalhau to the garlicky oil and cook over a medium heat, uncovered, for 5 minutes.  Gently stir the bacalhau occasionally to brown it and prevent sticking.

6. Add the clams to the bacalhau, cover the pot securely, and let the clams cook undisturbed until they are open, 10-15 minutes.  Once they are open, uncover the pan and add the cooked potatoes.  Stir everything around gently to mix, and add the cilantro, salt (sparingly), and pepper to taste.

7. Give it one last stir over the heat, and then bring to the table to serve immediately.

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