Given the ubiquitousness of salted cod (bacalhau) in Portuguese cuisine, this blog has admittedly few references to it so on to the task of remedying that with a classic dish from the centre of Portugal (Beiras region) – Bacalhau à Lagareiro. Lagar is the Portuguese term for olive oil press and lagareiro referring to the worker of the press. This recipe, not surprisingly, is very much about putting the best quality olive oil (azeite) at the centre of the dish. Together with flavourful garlic and “punched potatoes”, this is one of those simple combinations of flavours and textures that is characteristically Portuguese. As with most bacalhau recipes the cod needs to be soaked beforehand. Soaked cod freezes well so you can soak a larger batch and freeze individual tranches.
1. Soak the cod for 2-3 days, depending on thickness, changing the water twice a day. Use cold water in a large container and follow protocol by placing the cod tranche always skin up. You can make small knife incisions through the sides to let water infiltrate the fish and speed up the process.
2. Wash the potatoes and keeping the skin on, place on oven tray with plenty of sea salt. Roast at 180C for 40-50 minutes turning occasionally. The skins should be crispy and the inside soft.
3. While the potatoes are roasting infuse the olive oil by keeping a container in a warm place with the oil, garlic and bay leaf or rosemary.
4. Grill the cod on the bbq or electric grill for about 10 minutes each side, making sure it is not getting too dry.
5. Serve by placing a potatoes on the plate and gently punching them so that they open and get ready to soak up the infused oil (better do this with a tea towel if your inexperienced as you can burn yourself rather easily…). Cut the cod tranche into half, removing the large bone, place on plate with potatoes and pour the olive oil with some of the slices of garlic. The dish can be served with a simple green salad or steamed greens.