A while back, i blogged about the precious Gateau Basque recipe i hacked from my cooking instructor with the help of a gang of kitchen thugs. Organized crime never tasted so good. This is another recipe from those early days in the kitchen except this one was graciously offered as part of my culinary education. And by that i mean… nobody got hurt! It’s one of the first dish i learned how to make and still one of my favorite. A brandade is a creamy puree of poached salt cod, potatoes, cream, olive oil and ample quantities of garlic, a dish indigenous to the south of France. In this Basque adaptation, sweet piquillo peppers are stuffed with the salt cod brandade and baked, more piquillo peppers are turned into a coulis to accompany the dish. The result is so delicious you might feel the urge to write me a love letter. At the very least, that’s what i expect from you.
I know what *really* got your attention on this picture is not the edible part, it’s the.. er.. thing. Call it a spork or a fpoon, you may. I like to call it a freak of nature, a cutlery mutant… It’s actually designed for indecisive people like me who can’t decide when spooning or forking is best although i’m sure you know spooning can lead to forking and the other way around. Hmm.. let’s not go there.. you perverts!
If you visited Alain Ducasse restaurants and particularly the Spoon franchise you might recognized it as it was especially designed for it. Now why call a restaurant Spoon when you put a goddamn Spork on the table, Mr Ducasse? Got me. What’s next? the Spife and the Knork? Arrrr.. [pirate grumbling]
Now that i 1) lost half of my readers 2) instilled dirty thoughts to some 3) confused the last 4 of you… We can move on to the recipe.
Piquillo Pepper Stuffed with Salt Cod Brandade
- Serves 5
- 1/2 pound salt cod
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaf
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 1 head garlic
- 1/2 cup cream
- 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cups milk
- 1/2 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- Salt and white pepper to taste
- 15 piquillo peppers
- 1 shallot, peeled and sliced
- Soak the salt cod in cold water for about 12 hours, changing the water at least three times. Divide peppercorns, bay leaf and thyme into two batches. Wrap in cheesecloth to make 2 sachets. Slice the head of garlic in half crosswise.
- Pour cream into a small saucepan with half a head of garlic. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to the lowest. Let infuse for 30 minutes. Pour 1/3 cup of olive oil into a saucepan and add the rest of the garlic. Heat until garlic sizzle, reduce heat to very low and infuse for 30 minutes. Strain.
- When the garlic and the cream have infused for 20 minutes, combine in a saucepan 2 cups of the milk, a herb sachet and the cod. Cook until cod flakes easily, about 10 to 15 minutes. In a different saucepan, cook potatoes with remaining milk and herb sachet until tender.
- Drain cod and potatoes and dump the sachets. Transfer to a food processor. Slowly add the infused oil, followed by the infused cream. Pulse until smooth, then season to taste. Stuff 10 of the peppers with the brandade. Lick the bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Cut remaining piquillos into small chunks. Sautee the piquillos, shallot and a clove of garlic in olive oil. Season to taste. Add water or chicken stock to cover and cook at low heat until tender. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree to make a coulis. Adjust seasoning. Keep warm.
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Add stuffed peppers to a pan brushed with olive oil and transfer to the oven for 20 minutes. Serve with the piquillo pepper coulis.