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Appetizers, Fish and Shellfish, Mains

Bacalao and potato gratin

Bacalao and potato gratin
Los Angeles Times

WHEN Isak Dinesen wanted to depict the abject misery of a Jutland fishing community in her short story "Babette's Feast," she described the villagers, clad all in black, eating a mean plate of salt cod. In hip restaurants all over ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour, plus 8 hours soaking | Serves 6
  • 1 pound salt cod, soaked at least overnight
  • 1 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 1 tablespoon capers, plus 1 teaspoon juice
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • Salt, optional
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs, mixed with 1 clove garlic, crushed

Step 1Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Step 2Cut the cod into bite-sized pieces. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and then into half-inch slices. Place both in a large saucepan and cover generously with water. Add the bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are tender but not crumbling and the salt cod is just ready to flake, 25 to 30 minutes.

Step 3Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When very hot, add the garlic, parsley and capers and stir. Cook about 30 seconds and quickly add the tomatoes. Stir to combine and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the sauce is slightly thickened, which should happen just before the cod and potatoes are cooked.

Step 4Drain the cod and potatoes and remove the bay leaves. Add both to the tomato sauce and gently mix. Inevitably, some of the potatoes will break apart, but you want as many whole pieces as possible. Taste and correct the seasoning for salt.

Step 5Brush 6 (6-ounce) ramekins with oil. Spoon the mixture into the ramekins. Sprinkle with the garlicky bread crumbs and drizzle a little oil over top. Place the ramekins in a baking dish and bake until the tops are golden brown and the insides are bubbling, about 20 to 25 minutes. Serve immediately.


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