Saturday, April 17, 2010

April 16th - Bacalao and Manchego Soufflee - Salt Cod

I fancied using the last bit of Salt Cod or Bacalao we had in the fridge.  I tossed around what I felt like making with it but knew I wanted something of substance as a main, not something like a sautee or stirfry.  I thought I would go for a Spanish inspired soufflee.  I love soufflees and after living in Spain for a couple years, I have a warm fuzzy place in my stomach for Spanish food.

There are some basic ingredients you will often found as foundational to Spanish food as well as those you will not find in it.  Garlic, Onions, Olive Oil, Eggs, Tomatoes, Bacalao, Sweet Paprika are in alot of the classic dishes.  You will not often find spicy Spanish food.  That is often a misconception because of South American and Mexican food.  My friends cannot handle Black Pepper.  You will never see it on the table next to the salt shaker in a restaurant.  You can request it but it would be unusual.  As well, they do not brown their Onions or Garlic when they cook.  That throws me off but I grew used to it.  I remember making Tortilla de Patatas once with some friends and I had gently browned onions and Danny started to pick out the browned ones.  Hilarious.

Anyhoo, of course another gorgeous Spanish treat is Manchego.  I made perfect sense to use it as the cheese in a dish like a soufflee.  I have made a number of souflees over the years from Classic Cheese, playful Caribbean Seafood, Spinach or Broccoli and Feta.  MMMM, so if you have a good and solid base recipe, you can create alot of creative variations.  You do need to be mindful of balancing acidity both from a flavour aspect and stability of egg.  I thought about adding Lemon Juice or Zest but was worried about curdling the milk and deflating the eggs.  I might have used more Paprika.  I used the hot variety and it was not detectable at all.  The mustard was nice.  Barely there but added contour.  MMMMM

Bacalao and Manchego Soufflee

(Serves 2 if this is all you are having. Could serve 4 with a side.)
250-300 g Salt Cod, weighed at the start
(start soaking over night or day before, changing water every few hours, keep in fridge)
1 T Olive Oil
1/4 c Butter (+more for the dish)
4 T (1/4 c) Flour
1 c Milk

1 t dry Mustard
1/2 t Paprika, hot
1/4 t fresh Nutmeg, grated
3 cloves Garlic
1 small Shallot, minced (ping pong ball sized)
5 large Eggs, separated
1 Egg yolk (because I corrupted the white on the 6th egg with a bit of yolk)
50 g Manchego, grated (1 c, fluffy)
25 g Parmesan, grated (1/2c, fluffy)

1/4 c Cream of Tartar (optional)
no Salt
no Pepper

In a large bowl, place the Salt Cod and fill with water.  Change the water as often as you want to remove the salt.  It is best to go over night or a full day.

Melt 1 T of butter.  With a brush, brush the 9" Soufflee dish with the butter.  Stroke the sides in an upward direction.  You could do this with softened butter and some wax paper too.  Place in fridge for 20 minutes.  Repeat the buttering. Leave in fridge until you are at the Egg White stage.

Place the fish in a large sauce pan filled with water or half water half milk.  I do not like to waste the milk :^).  Simmer for 20-25 minutes.  Drain, cool, flake.  Flake to the size you like.  I like it quite large, bite sized pieces but you can make it as fine as you like.  Drain well so you do not introduce extra water to the soufflee batter.  I do this all in between while chopping.  I pick my critical path and go.

Preheat the oven to 395 F or 200 C.

In a large saucepan, medium heat the Olive Oil, use a nice one.  You do not have too but if you do, do not put the heat up too high or you lose the fruity spanishy goodness.  Fry the the Garlic and Shallot for 1 minute.

Add the butter.  When melted, add the flour 1 T at a time, while you whisk.  Keep stirring when all the flour is in for another 1-2 minutes to cook the flour a bit.  Add the milk and whisk.  You want it thicker than a typical bechemel sauce, thicker than cake batter.  Add the Paprika, Nutmeg and Mustard.  I added them before the milk and it was like I tried to gas myself.  Do not do it.  I do it often enough when I fry spices when I do a curry.

Lower the heat to low.  Stir or whisk and add the yolks 1 yolk at a time.  Keep stirring to aoid scrambling the eggs.  Keep stirring for 1-2 minutes and turn the heat off. Stir in the cheese thoroughly. Gently stir in the fish.  I tried not to break the fish flakes but you don't have to if you don't care.  Set aside.

Turn your attention to the Egg Whites. Add the cream of Tartar to the whites and turn the mixer on high.  Beat for 3-5 minutes until stiff peak stage but not dry.  If you tip the head of your mixer back, the white on the beater should stand up.  I like to go 30 s beyond that.

With a large spatula, stir in one large scoop (1c) of the whites without worrying about deflating the whites.  You are lightning up the base.  Add another cup if you need to.

Since my mixer bowl is bigger than my sauce pan, I put the base into the Egg Whites.  I dump the lot into the egg whites.  Fold together.  With your large Spatula, slice down the middle, scoop up the bottom to the side. Turn the bowl a quarter and repeat, round and round.  You want it well combined but don't over do it.  It is okay to see some whites.

Pour into the soufflee dish.  You can white the batter from the sides if you want to encourage climbing more. I did not.  Place it in the oven in the middle.  Bake for 25 minutes.  It will still be a bit creamy in the middle.  You want the top golden but not dark.  I do not like the taste of over browned eggs.  Some recipes have the oven at 375.  I might play with this next time to allow longer cooking for 30-35 minutes.

Serve with large serving spoons with a nice simple green salad. YUMMO!

We started the cooking process with pretty Pares Balta Cava, crisp, tart green apples.

We had dinner with a Quail's Gate Pinot Noir 2006.  I will admit I was pleasantly surprised by this wine.  I had not anticipated how nice it would be.  It was well balanced, nice body.  Could have had a bit more length but it was not the end of the world.

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