Bacalhau de Ceu (Heavenly Salt Cod)

 

1             pound  salted codfish (bacalhau), soaked, drained

½            cup olive oil

4             large onions, thinly sliced

1             bay leaf

4             very ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped small or 1 ½ cup canned chopped   tomatoes, drained

4             green or red sweet peppers, stemmed, seeded, thinly sliced, lengthwise

1             tablespoon flour

¼            cup cooking water*

¼            teaspoon ground white pepper or to taste

1             tablespoon coarse sea salt or to taste

4             large potatoes, boiled in their skin

1             cup plain bread crumbs

3             tablespoons soft butter

 

Day ahead:

1. Prepare the fish, soaking in water 24-36 hours, several changes of water

Cooking Day:

1. Drain and rinse the fish. Poach in a pot of simmering water for 15 minutes. *Reserve ¼  cup of the cooking water. Transfer fish to a bowl and remove any skin and bones.

2. Make the base. (Refogado): Heat one half of the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat and fry the onions with the bay leaf until the onions are soft and have some color, about 7 minutes.

3. Mix in the tomatoes and garlic.  Simmer for one minute then add the sliced peppers. Cover and continue to cook until the tomatoes are married to the onions about 10 minutes. 

4. Separately, mix the flour with the reserved cooking water, about 2-3  tablespoons. Stir into the tomatoes and onions.  Remove bay leave.  Season with the salt and pepper to taste.

5.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Peel the cooked potatoes and slice thickly.  Layer the potatoes on the bottom of a  well-oiled 9 x 13 baking dish.  Add a layer of the fish. Add the cooked peppers, onions and tomato over the fish.  Mix the bread crumbs with the soft butter and scatter over the top Bake 30-45 minutes until golden on top.

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