Sunday, December 27, 2009

Traditional Portuguese Christmas Eve Dinner

Bacalhau or "salt cod" has been a major staple & favorite meal throughout Portugal since the 14th century when Portuguese fishermen would make the three month voyage in small ships to fish off the coast of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. There are many variations of Portuguese "Bacalhau" recipes, It is said that there are 365 recipes, one can have a different bacalhau meal every day of the year. It is no wonder that Bacalhau is known to the Portuguese as "meu amigo bacalhau", (my dear friend, bacalhau).

It is no wonder that this simple dish is the favorite to have on this day of celebration.
The bacalhau is boiled along with potatoes and cabbage and boiled eggs. The cabbage in Portugal is a dark green, thick leafed "couve galega" that is grown through-out Portugal and can be seen in almost everyone's backyard. This is the cabbage that would likely be used on Christmas day meal, although any cabbage or broccoli rabe can be used as well.

The bacalhau (salt cod) is bought dried & preserved in salt & must be soaked in water for 24 hrs prior to cooking. The water should be changed several time to extract the salt & rehydrate the fish. Simply boil or steam all the ingredients fish potatoes & cabbage in a large pot for about 20 minutes. The bacalhau should be cut into portions before soaking. In a separate skillet heat 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil & brown sliced onion rings in hot oil. To serve, drain the bacalhau, potatoes, cabbage and eggs, peal the & slice the eggs & pour the olive oil & onion mixture over them, add Portuguese olives & serve with a crusty bread.