Brandade de Morue

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This recipe was prepared by Chef John Maxwell on Real Virginia, Virginia Farm Bureau’s weekly television program.

Maxwell, a certified executive chef, culinary educator and member of the American Academy of Chefs, shares delicious seasonal recipes in a Real Virginia segment sponsored by Virginia Grown, a program of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Brandade de Morue

1 pound skinless salt cod fillet
1 pound large red-skinned potatoes
1½ cups whole milk
8 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking dish
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 baguettes, cut into rounds and toasted, for serving

In a bowl, cover the salt cod with 1" of cold water. Refrigerate for 24 hours, changing the water 4 times.

In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with water, and boil over moderately high heat until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain water, and peel potatoes while hot.

Drain the cod and transfer to a saucepan. Add 2 quarts of water; bring just to a boil. Drain the cod, and rinse out the pan. Return the cod to the pan, add 4 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes to poach. Drain the cod, and return it to the pan. Add the milk and garlic, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove cod from milk, but reserve milk for later.

Preheat oven to 400°.

In a large bowl, using a whisk or fork, break cod into small chunks. Add peeled potatoes, and mash together by hand. Wearing gloves, finish processing the mixture by hand, pressing cod and potatoes together. Be sure you have equal parts cod and potatoes in the mix.

Add the reserved milk, lemon zest, lemon juice and cayenne pepper, and hand-mix until smooth. Slowly pour in the olive oil, and continue mixing until incorporated. Season with black pepper if desired (Note: Some recipes call for using a food processor at this stage; Chef Maxwell prefers to mix by hand for better texture).

In an ungreased 9"x13" baking dish, spread the brandade and sprinkle with cheese. Bake on the top shelf of the oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with toasts.

The assembled brandade can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before baking.

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