Bacalao a la Vizcaína ( Cod Vizcaya Style )
Vizcaya is a province in the autonomous community of the Basque Country, located in Northern Spain. Vizcayan cuisine is notable for its simplicity and variety and fish is the star of the traditional cuisine.
Bacalao a la Vizcaína is one of the signature dishes of the region and found on virtually every Basque menu. Even though there are many versions of this recipe, the main ingredients of cod, red peppers and tomato are always present in all the different interpretations of this dish.
This is my own adaptation of the recipe which originally came from my mom's cookbook on Puerto Rican cuisine. When I was growing up, cod was eaten regularly during Lent and Fridays. In the USA, salted dry cod is available in Italian and Hispanic markets. I'm aware that salted cod is not to everyone's taste but I grew up eating it and I considered it a comfort food.
1 pound salted cod
1 pound potatoes (about 3 medium potatoes), peeled, sliced thin
2 medium size onions, sliced thin
8 ounces tomato sauce
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 Spanish red peppers (pimiento morrón) cut into 3/4 inch wide strips
1/4 cup ( about 10 ) Spanish green olives
2 tablespoons capers
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
Place the salted cod in a bowl filled with enough water to cover the fish. Soak for 12 hours, changing the water once.
Drain the cod and put in a pot with two liters of water. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and leave in the pot covered for 10 minutes.
Drain, pat dry and finely flake the cod removing any skin and bones.
In a large pan, pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil and spread to cover the bottom of the pan. Put a layer of potato slices, followed by the cod and top with the onion slices.
Combine the rest of the ingredients and pour over.
Cover the pan and initially turn the heat to medium high. As soon as it starts to cook, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Halfway during cooking and with a wide turner or spatula, loosen the bottom layer of the potatoes to keep it from sticking, being careful not to break the slices.
This dish is traditionally cooked in a clay or earthenware pot. I did not use my clay pot but did serve it in individual clay bowls.