18 February 2012

Bacalhau com Molho de Coentros

The nickname for this bacalhau, I have just decided, is "Undercover Bacalhau."

Go ahead-- what is in this dish, pictured above? You may know it is bacalhau because, well, that is what the post title says-- but can you see it?

It reminds me of that episode of Alias where Sydney walks into a drug store as a normal CIA operative and walks out in a skirt made of cow-patterned wrapping paper with blonde hair and new sorority girlfriends. Even her own dad's goon doesn't suspect it is her. Then she goes electric bull-riding at a bar in Moscow.

Okay, new nickname.  This is officially the "Bristow Bacalhau".

Because besides being in a great disguise, this dish kicks butt. Just like Syd.

(Yeah, I can call her that now-- I just named a saltcod dish after her for heaven's sake!)

For people who want to actually know what they are eating, here are the non-metaphorical details:

Roasted saltcod smothered with sauteed onions.
A wreath of tiny bacon-wrapped potatoes.
A simple cilantro and olive oil dressing.

5 out of 5 fins
I am a big fan of plain old roasty bacalhau. But to me, the star of this dish is how great each of the elements are-- and that there ARE several elements. I adore this dish because of the potatoes wrapped in bacon. I am in love with the fresh, bright cilantro sauce. Unlike the normal scattering of leaves that a saltcod dish may get, the olive oil is infused with a whole bunch of bright green leaves and brings the whole dish together. It is a slightly different spin on the Portuguese classic Bacalhau Assado, and it works.

Bacalhau com Molho do Coentros
Saltcod with Cilantro Sauce
serves 4

4 bone-in bacalhau steaks, soaked and desalted
4 cups milk
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 bay leaves
2 pounds of baby red potatoes (or other waxy potato cut into small, even pieces)
1/2 pound of bacon, sliced
2 medium onions, sliced into half-moons
3/4 cups olive oil, divided
one small fresh bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
pepper to taste

1. In a large bowl, combine the milk, garlic, bay leaves, and a little pepper.  Soak the bacalhau in this milk mixture for about an hour.

2. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Scrub and dry the potatoes. Wrap a piece of bacon around each potato, securing it with a toothpick. (I used regular Oscar Meyer bacon and cut each piece in half once to get the right length for wrapping.)

3. Heat a teaspoon of the olive oil in a pan and add the onions and a small bit of salt. Let the onions cook over a medium heat until they are just a little soft and translucent.  Don't let them get brown.

4. Remove the bacalhau from the milk, and arrange it in the center of a roasting pan skin-side down. Surround the bacalhau with the tiny potatoes in bacon. Top the bacalhau with the onions. Drizzle the whole dish with 1/2 cup of olive oil.

5. Place the pan in the middle of the preheated oven, and cook for approximately 40 minutes.

6. Before serving, take the finely chopped cilantro and whisk it together with the remaining olive oil. When everything is done, make yourself a plate and drizzle cilantro oil all over the fish and potatoes.

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