Salt cod brandade

A unique starter for any Spring-time dinner party

600g dried salt cod
250ml olive oil, plus extra for frying
1 small loaf of French bread, sliced
250ml milk
2-3 garlic cloves

1. Place the salt cod in a large dish, cover with cold water and soak for around 20 hours, changing the water twice. When ready to cook, drain the cod and place in a saucepan of water. Bring slowly to the boil, then simmer for around 8 minutes.
2. Drain and flake the fish into pieces, removing all bones and any skin. It’s easiest to do this with your hands, so wait until the fish is cool enough to handle.
3. Gently heat 1-2 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan. When hot, add the bread slices (I would allow two slices per person, plus a bit extra) and fry for a couple of minutes on each side until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm.
4. Put the remaining olive oil in one saucepan and the milk in another and heat both pans gently – do not allow them to boil. Meanwhile, place the garlic cloves in a food processor and whizz until finely chopped. Add the flaked fish and whizz until broken up into fine, feathery pieces.
5. Slowly add a little warmed oil and then a little warmed milk, alternating and processing after each addition until the mixture is fluffy and creamy. You may not need all the liquid, so check as you go.
6. When ready, place the brandade in a warmed serving bowl and serve with the fried bread and a crisp, peppery salad like mizuna greens. To make a delicious supper, cook and mash 2-3 potatoes, combine with the brandade mixture and serve as above.

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