Lisbon, Portugal- Bacalhau no forno de Raquel

From Salamanca in Spain we got onto the nighttrain to Lisbon that arrived in the capital of Portugal around 7am. It was a sunny morning when we got here and it didn’t take a long time to like the city with it’s colorful buildings, deep streets, narrow lanes ,foodstalls, rikshas, streetart, small cafes, beautiful people of all nations and amazing local food.

First we were having an Espresso to wake up and get organized. That was a great chance to have one of the famous portugese pastries “Pastel de Nata” along with the coffee. I’am not really into sweets but I was happy I made an exception. It was really good!! Especially with coffee!  We got curiouse about more portugese food. Our goal was homecooking!

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Via couchsurfing we got in touch with “ Esmeralda, who is a very lovely and cheerful lady that enjoys being around people from all over the world. She has been hosting couchsurfers for many years and now started to offer her cozy apartment to international guests on www.airbnb.com

Esmeralda invited us to visit her home on Thursday to watch her cooking a portugese dish from her childhood that she learned from her Mama “Raquel”. The fact that she cooked the dish in the old baking tray of her mum made this dish more nostalgic and special.

We were really and felt priviledged to be at her home. Her house was just a 30 minutes walking distance from our place.

When we met Esmeralda we felt really welcome and comfy at her place. While we were sharing some travel stories, her cute cat “Estrela” was waiting for the right moment to catch some cod fish from the table.

We had a glass of wine and listened to Al green’s “ Let’s stay together”. We felt so at home.

Thank you Esmeralda for that very nice evening in Lisbon !!

Here is the recipe straight from a local home in Portugal.

Bacalhau no forno de “Raquel”

This local recipe is simple, delicious and antique

For a big baking tray that feeds 5-6 hungry people you will need. As it’s homecooking there is no rules for any quantities. Keep tasting and find out how you like it. This is how Esmeralda did and it was perfect. In case you are having a baking tray of half the size as on the pictures, just divide the quantity of ingredients.

Ingredients

3-4 tblsp Olive Oil

approx. 3 big Onions ( Chopped roughly)

4-5 garlic cloves (crushed with peel)

about 700-800g of sundried & salted codfish stripes

around 2,5-3 kg potatos

200-250g Butter

2cups of milk

fresh grated nutmeg

salt & pepper

300ml homemade or supermarket mayonnaise

Esmeralda did a homemade Mayonnaise from Oliveoil

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Soak the dried cod pieces in cold water for some minutes to reduce the salt . Do this twice. The fish will still have enough salt for the dish.

Meanwhile start sautéing the onion pieces and the crushed garlic in olive oil for about 10 minutes on a low heat. (Leave the garlic whole with peel on. Just crush it and add to the pan)

After that squeeze out the water from the cod and add the fish to the “onion and garlic mix.

Give all a good stir and continue to cook on a medium heat for 5-8 minutes. Now add black pepper and have a taste.

Season it with salt or more pepper if needed and put aside for later.

For the mash

Slice the potatos and bring to boil. When the potatos are soft get rid of the water and start mashing them. Add the butter and the milk and keep mashing. Until done.The mash should still be a bit chunky, not like a puree. Grate in fresh nutmeg , season with salt and taste.

The baking and layering

Now get a baking tray ready and start spreading the first thick layer of mash potatos inside the baking tray. Leave some mash for the final layer.

Next add the ‘fish onion garlic mix’ to make the next layer on top of the potatos.

Then spread all the mayonnaise on top of that. Use a spoon to make it easier.

Finally add the last layer of mash to the baking tray. Use a fork to create some designs on the surface of the last layer.It will look much nicer when it comes out of the oven.

Before you add the “mash potatos” and the “onion mix” to the tray make sure that you have tasted them.Once its baked it will be hard to season it.

Put the mix into the oven for 40 minutes at 180 degress. The surface will be golden brown when it’s done.

Enjoy this yummy dish with a salad.

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