Salt Cod Stew with Fingerlings and Fennel

Excerpted & Adapted from Flavorwalla by Floyd Cardoz (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2016.

"My grandmother Esme was a huge fan of bacalao (salt cod). She made all sorts of dishes, especially stews, with it. The funny thing is, though, that I had never actually tasted authentic Portuguese bacalao stew until I had it in a restaurant in New York City! I loved it so much that I came up with this version, which is best eaten with bread." - Chef Floyd Cardoz

Serves 4, Cooking Time: About 1 hour / Inactive Time: 2 days for soaking the salt cod

Ingredients:

  • Four 3-ounce / 85-gram pieces bacalao (salt cod)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1½ tablespoons Goan masala
  • 2 cups ¼-inch-thick half-moons fingerling potatoes (10 ounces/283 grams)
  • 1 cup ¼-inch-diced onion
  • ½ cup ¼-inch-diced carrot
  • ½ cup ¼-inch-diced fennel, plus fennel fronds for garnish
  • 1½ cups Chicken Stock or high-quality store-bought stock
  • Sea salt if needed 

Instructions

  1. Place the salt cod in a large bowl and cover generously with cold water. Cover and refrigerate for 2 days, changing the water twice (usually the first night and then again the next morning). Drain and discard the soaking water.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large ovenproof stew pot or Dutch oven, combine the olive oil and sliced garlic. Place the pot over low heat and cook until the garlic starts to brown, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the Goan masala,  potatoes, onion, carrot, and diced fennel to the pot. Stir until all the ingredients are evenly coated with spices. Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. (The stew base can be made ahead to this point. Remove from the heat and cool. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. When ready to finish, preheat the oven. Return the stew base to the pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat.)
  6. Add the soaked salt cod, cover the pot, place in the oven, and cook until the potatoes are tender and the flavors well blended, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary. Garnish the stew with the reserved fennel fronds and serve hot.