PIQUILLO PEPPERS STUFFED WITH SALT COD BRANDADA (for four)
For the brandada:
2 medium all purpose potatoes
1-1/4 pound desalted salt cod (see note)
1 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic
½ cup half and half
fine sea salt if needed, and freshly ground black pepper
1 jar roasted piquillo peppers (about 12 peppers)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
For the vinaigrette:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3-1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 small shallot, minced
flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
finely chopped fresh chives for garnish
1. Position a rack 4 to 6 inches below the heat source and turn on the broiler.
2. To make the brandade, put potatoes in a pot and add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium high and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and roughly chop.
3. Pat the desalted cod dry with paper towels. In a small, heavy saute pan, heat the olive oil over low heat and gently saute the garlic until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic, reserving the oil. Take the pan off the heat and let cool a little. Off the heat, carefully place the cod fillets in the hot oil and poach, turning once, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cod to a blender or food processor, reserving the oil.
4. Add the potatoes and the half and half to the blender and season with pepper. Blend the mixture into a thick cream. Taste for salt (you will probably not have to add any) and add 3 tablespoons of the garlic oil used to poach the cod. The brandada should not be too liquid – hold back on the oil if need be. Set aside.
5. Drain the peppers, but do not rinse. With your fingers, gently open the stem end of each pepper.
6. With a small spoon or your fingers, gently stuff about 1 tablespoon of the brandada inside each pepper. The brandada should fill the peppers, but should not be bursting out.
7. Position a rack 4 to 6 inches below the heat source and turn on the broiler. Arrange the peppers in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush them with the olive oil. Broil until the filling is bubbling, about 7 minutes. Let cool slightly.
8. Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, shallot, ½ teaspoon flaky salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
9. Transfer the pepper to a serving platter. Drizzle liberally with the vinaigrette, sprinkle with the chives and serve at once.
NOTE: If using frozen desalted cod, thaw and drain thoroughly. If using salt cod, desalt the fish by soaking it in cold water in the refrigerator for 2 days, changing the water twice a day. Drain thoroughly in a colander.
from Paul Richardson, Rustic Spanish, published by Williams Sonoma