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Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Perfect Whipped Salt Cod Spread (Brandade de Morue)

Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Perfect Whipped Salt Cod Spread (Brandade de Morue)

Discover the Mediterranean delight of brandade – a rich, creamy cod spread that transforms humble salt cod into a luxurious appetizer. Known by different names across Southern Europe, this versatile dish will transport your taste buds to sun-soaked coastal villages.

Picture yourself in a rustic fish market, surrounded by glistening seafood on ice. Your eyes land on wooden crates filled with dried, salted cod. While it may not look appetizing at first glance, this unassuming ingredient is the key to unlocking a world of flavor. Today, we’ll guide you through creating a luscious brandade that will impress even the most discerning palates.

Brandade’s beauty lies in its simplicity – just a few quality ingredients whipped into a silky emulsion. Whether you call it brandade de morue, baccalà mantecato, or brandada, the result is a harmonious blend of salt cod, olive oil, and garlic that’s perfect for spreading on crusty bread or crispy toast points.

Ready to embark on your brandade adventure? Let’s dive in and unlock the secrets of this Mediterranean classic!

Prep the Salt Cod

The journey begins with properly preparing your salt cod. This crucial step ensures your brandade achieves the perfect balance of flavors:

  1. Rinse the salt cod thoroughly under cold water to remove excess salt.
  2. Soak the cod in fresh water for 24 hours, changing the water several times. This patient process rehydrates the fish and mellows its saltiness.
  3. Once soaked, simmer the cod gently with aromatic herbs for about 10 minutes.
  4. After cooling, flake the cod, removing any bones or tough membranes.

The Great Potato Debate

To spud or not to spud? That is the question. While traditional recipes vary, adding potato to your brandade is a matter of personal preference. Here’s what to consider:

  • Potatoes mellow the intense cod flavor, making it more approachable for newcomers.
  • They increase the yield, stretching your brandade further.
  • The texture becomes softer and creamier with potato.

If you choose to include potato, aim for a 2:1 ratio of cod to potato by weight. This maintains the fish as the star while adding just enough creamy bulk.

Whipping Up Perfection

Now comes the magic – transforming simple ingredients into a luxurious spread:

  1. Place your flaked cod in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  2. Add minced garlic for a punch of flavor.
  3. With the mixer running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until fully incorporated.
  4. Gradually add cream or milk to create a luscious emulsion.
  5. If using potato, fold it in gently at the end to avoid overworking.
  6. Season to taste and consider adding optional herbs or lemon zest for brightness.

The result? A spread that’s greater than the sum of its parts – creamy, savory, and utterly addictive.

Serving Suggestions

While delicious straight from the mixer, brandade reaches new heights when served warm and golden brown:

  1. Spread the mixture in an oven-safe dish.
  2. Bake until heated through and lightly browned on top.
  3. Serve immediately with an array of dipping vehicles – crusty baguette, toasted pita, or even grilled polenta for an Italian twist.

Watch as your guests dive in, savoring each creamy, flavorful bite. Don’t be surprised if this becomes your new go-to appetizer for gatherings!

Whipped Salt Cod Spread (Brandade de Morue)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound salt cod
  • 1/2 pound whole russet potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes; see note)
  • 5 medium whole cloves garlic, plus 2 optional minced medium cloves garlic, divided (see note)
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil (or 3/4 cup if no potato)
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half (or 1/4 cup if no potato)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems (optional)
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon (optional)
  • Crackers or baguette toasts, for serving

Directions

  1. Rinse salt cod under cold running water until surface salt is washed away. Transfer to a large container (cut into smaller pieces if necessary) and cover with fresh water. Refrigerate for 24 hours, changing the water several times during that period.
  2. Bake potatoes in a 350°F (175°C) oven until easily pierced with a fork, about 1 hour. Alternatively, put potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with cold unsalted water; set over medium-high heat, bring to a simmer, and cook until easily pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes. Split potatoes lengthwise, scoop flesh from potato skins, and mash using a food mill, ricer, or potato masher. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, drain salt cod and place in a medium saucepan. Cover with cold unsalted water and add 5 whole cloves garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand in cooking liquid for 20 minutes.
  4. Drain salt cod, reserving garlic; discard thyme and bay leaf. Flake salt cod, discarding any bones and silvery membranes.
  5. Transfer salt cod and reserved cooked garlic to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle; add remaining 2 minced garlic cloves for a more intense garlic flavor. With the mixer running at medium-high speed, drizzle in the olive oil until fully incorporated. Then drizzle in half-and-half until fully incorporated.
  6. Add mashed potatoes and whip just long enough to fully incorporate. Season with salt and pepper, and mix in optional flavorings, like minced parsley or lemon zest, if using.
  7. Serve the brandade at room temperature with crackers or baguette toasts, or serve it warm and browned on top by transferring to an oven-safe baking dish or gratin dish and baking at 350°F (175°C) for 10 minutes; then broil until browned on top, about 3 minutes.

Notes

Potato is a common, but optional, ingredient in this spread. Using it creates brandade with a milder flavor and softer, creamier texture; it also yields a greater quantity of brandade by acting as a filler. If you decide to omit it in favor of a brandade with a more assertive salt-cod flavor and toothsome bite, cut the olive oil down to 3/4 cup and the half-and-half to 1/4 cup.

The cooked garlic adds a mellow flavor to the brandade, but you can punch it up by adding 2 minced raw cloves during the whipping step.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
313 Calories
27g Fat
6g Carbs
11g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 10
Amount per serving
Calories 313
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 27g 35%
Saturated Fat 4g 19%
Cholesterol 15mg 5%
Sodium 593mg 26%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 11g
Vitamin C 2mg 12%
Calcium 17mg 1%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 326mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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