Brandade (Salt Cod & Potato Puree)

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When I think of brandade my thoughts always take me back to the first time I saw dried salt cod. At Berowra Waters Inn, flat, dried out old bony fish used to hang above my apprentice section, which was the corridor that led to the outdoor patio where the goanna would regularly meet me requesting scraps from the kitchen.

I had no idea what they were. Then brandade appeared on the menu and these creaky old frames were transformed into the most magical silky white fishy mash.

My marked old recipe card for brandade, like so many of my favourite recipes, has its origins noted and previous incarnations stapled to the back. Each one, more faded than the last. Each one, more stained than the last and each one dating back further than the last.

Many of these old cards are written by me and yet many are not. It’s amazing how many of these handwritten scripts by my previous chefs I can still put a face to.

Now I make brandade using this recipe for Brandade de Morue from Simon Hopkinson’s book Roast Chicken and Other Stories using the infinitely less ugly, less dry salt cod fillets.

As Simon states, “The olive oil for this dish should be of the finest quality”.

This recipe makes quite a large amount of brandade but it is hardly worth going to the effort to make less. It has lots of applications.

Image Credit: Tomasz Machnik

Brandade (Salt Cod & Potato Puree)

Servings 2.5 kg approx

Equipment

  • Food processor
  • Large pot for poaching the cod fillets
  • 2 x smaller saucepans
  • Slotted spoon

Ingredients

For poaching the Salt CodFillets

  • 2 kg salt cod fillets bone in yields approximately 1kg after cooking
  • 2 litres milk
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 0.5 bunch fresh thyme
  • 10 cloves of garlic unpeeled
  • 3 bay leaves

For making the brandade

  • 600 mls olive oil extra virgin
  • 600 mls full cream milk
  • 600 gms potatoes I find Desirees are fine for this
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • lemon juice to taste when served

For 6 brandade fritters

  • 125 gms breadcrumbs from leftover sourdough or any leavened bread for that matter — don’t feel guilty about buying them
  • 2 whole eggs
  • vegetable or canola oil for deep frying

Instructions

Brandade

  • Cover the fish in water and soak for 24 hours in the fridge, changing the water if possible 4-5 times during this period; if not the final mix will be more salty.
  • Drain and rinse the fish and add to a large pot, cover with milk, add the unpeeled cloves of garlic, thyme and peppercorns and bring to a gentle simmer. Turn off the heat immediately and leave to swell further allowing the fish to become tender and easier to remove from the bones. 20 minutes is about as long as you want to leave it otherwise the fish will cool down too much and be harder to puree.
  • Boil the potatoes in unsalted water, peel and Mouli and set aside covered in plastic wrap to keep warm and prevent them from drying out.
  • In two separate pots warm the milk and oil to 80°C.
  • Once everything is cooked and warm (in a perfect brandade-making world this will all occur at the same time), drain the fish and remove all the bones and skin. (Strain and set aside this milk for another use such as adding to a potato soup or mashed potato.)
  • Peel the poached garlic cloves and add to the fish meat.
  • Transfer the fish and garlic to a food processor and puree. Add the warm milk, and then the oil slowly, just as you would do for mayonnaise. Finally add the potato. This just needs a quick mix as you don’t want to overwork the potato and render your brandade tough or rubbery.
  • Taste the brandade and add pepper and, believe it or not, it may need some salt!
  • I like to add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice just before serving as it can quickly lose its freshness if added too far in advance. So if you are making a batch to use the next day or over the course of the following few, add lemon juice as you go. Keep the mixture chilled.

Brandade fritters

  • Once your brandade is chilled it is ready to be transformed into fritters. I find it better to portion the brandade mix into several smaller containers so that the mixture stays cold, the colder the mix the easier it is to spoon your quenelles of brandade.
  • Heat a generous quantity of vegetable or canola oil to 180°C in a deep pot, at least 1 litre of oil for 3 fritters at a time.
  • Whisk the eggs in a wide mouth shallow bowl.
  • Place the breadcrumbs into another similar sized bowl.
  • Using a dessert spoon dipped into hot water, scoop the brandade into quenelles. Place these into the lightly whisked eggs. Then using a slotted spoon, one at a time transfer them to a bowl with the breadcrumbs. Think Lamingtons: just enough breadcrumbs to provide ample coverage but not so much that you will waste any, as the crumbs will become cloggy with the residue egg mix and need to be discarded.
  • These are best not left to rest too long as the crumbs can become soggy, so one at a time gently submerge them into the hot oil. Three quenelles at a time should suffice.
  • The trick here is to ensure that the temperature of the oil doesn’t drop too much below 180 degrees. If you have a deep fryer this is less of an issue but still one to note. The desired outcome is a warm fritter with a crunchy outside and the deception of no oil having been used in the process.
  • Repeat the process until you have cooked the number of quenelles you require.
  • If you are serving several people, I suggest cooking one quenelle at a time and serving each guest one by one. Not only will the oil temperature remain more stable delivering a better result, but each guest will receive their quenelle just as it should be – freshly and perfectly cooked with a shorter waiting time between each portion.
  • Serve with a tart mayonnaise such as an aioli, fresh lemon wedges, and a slaw made from leaves of the season is always a bonus.

Notes

Other delicious uses for brandade
  • Use as a spread on grilled sourdough bread, top with olives.
  • Warm the brandade with a little cream to loosen and place in a gratin dish, make a well in it, then crack an egg into the well and bake it at 180°C.
  • Toss through sautéed kale and serve with pasta.
Season: Autumn, Spring, Summer, Winter
Category: Seafood

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out ! Leave a comment below and tag @birdcowfish on Instagram and hashtag it #goodsimpledelicious.

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