Thursday, December 17, 2009

Aporreado de Bacalao (Flaked Salted Cod Stew)

I will say just like I said in my old post for "Frituritas de Bacalao" (salted cod fritters) dry salted cod is called "Bacalao" by Cubans, Spaniards, and I assume Portuguese too. Bacalao has been around for probably ages (by that I mean ancient times like when Spain wasn't even Spain) and was popular because it can last a very long time and didn't need refrigeration or anything in the old days. It is still popular in Spain and Cubans also enjoy Bacalao.

Their are many ways to cook prepare it, (it is said I don't know by who but that there are 1,000 ways to cook Bacalao) the recipe I present today is "Aporreado de Bacalao" (Flaked Salted Cod Stew), flaked de-salted cod is simmered in a savory tomato based sauce formed with the salted cod stock, the bacalao and the sauce marry to create a unique flavor and the sliced boiled potatoes that accompany it are simmered in the salted cod stock to create a very delicious savory comforting stew.

Main Ingredient:
-1 lbs. bacalao/ dry salted cod (de-salted and flaked)

For the sauce Ingredients:
-1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
-1 onion finely minced
-1 green bell pepper finely minced (or red or 1/2 green 1/2 red)
-4 cloves garlic mashed to a paste (garlic press, mortar or super minced)
-8 oz/ 1 cup prepared tomato sauce
-1/2 cup dry white wine
-2 cups salted cod stock
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1/2 teaspoon ground oregano

To finish the dish Ingredients:
-4 large potatoes (boiled in salted cod stock)
-finely minced parsley to garnish (we use cilantro though but traditionally parsley I guess)


(1) Get the dry salted cod, rinse well, place it in a pot or container with water enough to cover, soak at least 24 hours (it's okay if you soak a little longer don't be so precise or paranoid about time) changing water every 6-8 hours (just whenever you remember).
After 24 hours it looked like this:
(2) Afterward, put salted cod in pot with water and bring to a boil then let boil for 5 minutes, remove cod DO NOT I REPEAT DO NOT THROW AWAY THE LIQUID YOU BOILED THE SALTED COD IN YOU WILL USE THIS STOCK TO BOIL THE POTATOES AND MAKE THE SAUCE FOR THE COD
Once cod is removed cool and remove any bones, and skin and flake the cod pieces into small pieces. Reserve.

(3) In the boiling salted cod stock, add whole raw peeled potatoes and boil 25- 30 minutes, then remove, cut them into thick rounds and set aside.
(4) Of course while the potatoes are boiling and you are flaking the cod you can multi-task and make the sauce. Heat a large deep-pan over medium high heat, add olive oil, saute onions and bell peppers lowering the heat to medium until translucent and fragrant. Add the garlic and saute an additional maybe 3-4 minutes (don't burn the garlic) now add the tomato sauce,
stir well,
add the dry white wine, and salted cod stock. bring to a boil. Season with cumin and oregano incorporate well DO NOT SALT IT THE BACALAO IS SALTY.
(5) Now add the flaked bacalao stir gently,
lower heat to medium low arrange potatoes on top, making sure to spoon over some of the sauce for the potatoes, let simmer about 4-5 minutes on low.
Then dust with minced parsley.
(6) Enjoy with fluffy white rice (steamed with a little salt and a good heavy drizzle extra-virgin olive oil) if you wish a light salad is good with this I wanted some Avocado instead though which is perfectly fine :)

Please Note:
(1) Everyone desalts the cod differently. The technique I used was by Mary Urratia Randelman from the book "Memories of a Cuban Kitchen" I liked the results. Meaty but the salted cod ex paned and was still meaty and chewy but not to chewy and soft. You may use whatever method you like.

To desalt my Tata (grandmother) rinses and boils the cod and drains it all in the same day. No soaking just straight to boil, and drains and re-boils until it's been desalted enough. Her method is very salty and tough but I grew up eating it that way but wanted to try something different. (I used her method for the salted cod fritters see post)

Other people soak it for 2 days then boil, some for 3 days even up to a week then never boil.

(2) Potatoes are delicious but if one wishes you can make it without potatoes and serve it with some steamed Boniato (white fleshed sweet potato/ yam) very delicious the salty and sweet contrast.

(3) My Tata's version of Bacalao a la Vizcaina (salted cod basque-style) is almost identical to this recipe except she uses about 2 lbs of salted cod and cuts the cod into 2-3 inch squares and simmers those chunks in the sauce, that recipe I will share sometime in the future (but maybe I won't use my grandmothers or I'll combine her recipe with another I saw one that uses bittersweet smoked Spanish paprika and some that use dried nora peppers/ pimientos choriceros which a friend brought me from Spain on her break) expect a post for "Arroz Con Bacalao" (salted cod and yellow rice) in the very near future. I had two pounds of salted cod, used 1 lbs, for this recipe, will use 1/2 lbs. for some fritters, and the other 1/2 lbs. for the "Arroz Con Bacalao"