SALT-COD BRANDADE WITH ESPELETTE DUSTED GARLIC CROUTONS
Serves 8 as a starter
|2 ltrs||Whole Milk|
|1||Large baking potato|
|100ml||Extra Virgin Olive oil|
|Olive oil for frying|
|1||Day old baguette|
|2||Cloves garlic, bruised|
|Ground Espelette pepper (basque chilli pepper)|
|Coarsely chopped parsley|
Brandade, a delicious emulsion of salt-cod, olive oil and a touch of garlic is a one of my very favourite things to eat. Don’t be shy when adding the olive oil – the final result should be smooth, glossy and unctuous.
1. The salt-cod needs to be soaked in copious amounts of fresh water in the fridge for 48 hours, changing the water regularly.
2. Bake the potato on a bed of salt at 180c until tender and then pass through a potato ricer and keep warm.
3. Cover the soaked drained cod with the milk in a saucepan and add the bay, thyme and garlic cloves bruising them to release their flavour. Bring the fish just up to the boil and then turn off the heat. Leave the fish to rest in the milk for fifteen minutes and then carefully flake the fish leaving behind any bones and skin.
4. This part takes a little imagination on the side of the cook – the more olive oil we can emulsify into the brandade the more indulgent the texture will be. Too little and the puree will be coarse – too much and it will be an oily mess on the plate. Start by putting the flaked cod in a food processor with a quarter of it’s volume of potato. Add a few tablespoons of the poaching milk and start to blend the mixture. Slowly drizzle in the two olive oils as if you were making a mayonnaise until you have a silky smooth mixture. You might need to add a little more milk or potato if the mixture is getting too claggy (milk) or wet (potato).
5. Finally season the mixture with freshly ground pepper and possibly, although unlikely, a little sea salt. Either keep the mixture warm if you will use it immediately, or refrigerate. If you refrigerate the mix you will need to warm it very gently on a low heat with a splash of milk so it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan.
6. Thinly slice the baguette. Heat the olive oil in a wide frying pan over a medium heat and add the garlic cloves until they release their aroma. Add the sliced baguette, in batches, and cook gently until golden brown.
7. Drain the croutons on kitchen paper and season with salt and Espelette • Serve the warm brandade with a sprinkling of chopped parsley and plenty of croutons
Espelette pepper comes from the very south of France in the Pays Basque where it is produced in the village of the same name. It is hung on the outside of the houses in late summer to dry, and it is worth seeking the previous year’s harvest for the fullest aroma. At Roux at the Landau we buy the whole peppers on strings in September and hang them all year in the kitchen, grinding them freshly as needed.