Salt Cod Purée (Brandade de Morue)
- 1 lb. salt cod fillet, preferably a thick, central cut
- 1 cup olive oil
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
- 12 triangular croutons, made from dense
sourdough bread and fried (see Note)
The day of serving, drain the salt cod and place in a saucepan. Add water to cover, place over medium heat and bring slowly to just under a boil. Simmer until the cod has softened and cooked through, 15 to 18 minutes. Drain well and, when cool enough to handle, remove any skin. Using a fork in each hand, flake the cod, removing any errant bones.
In separate small saucepans over medium heat, warm 1/2 cup of the olive oil and the milk. Remove from the heat. In a large saucepan over low heat, warm the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. Add the flaked salt cod and work well with a wooden spatula, mashing the cod as you stir. Add the garlic and mix well. Stirring constantly, alternately add the warmed olive oil and milk, a few tablespoons at a time, allowing each addition to be fully absorbed before adding more. When all the oil and milk is incorporated, season with white pepper.
Spoon the brandade on the croutons and serve immediately. Serves 6.
Note: To panfry croutons, rub bread pieces with garlic, if desired. In a fry pan over high heat, heat 1 inch of olive oil. Add the bread to the hot oil in a single layer and fry until golden on one side, about 1 minute. Turn and fry, adding more oil as needed, until golden on the other side, about 1 minute more. Transfer to paper towels to drain.