Bacalao a la Vizcaina (Cod Fish Stew)

Bacalao a la Vizcaina (Cod Fish Stew)
Bacalao a la Vizcaina (Cod Fish Stew)

Whenever I make this dish it takes me back…way back. The first time I had a taste of this Spanish-style cod stew, I must’ve still been a toddler and I never get tired of it.

Where does Bacalao a la Vizcaina come from

This dish is well known around the world and there is some debate as to the variations in the ingredients of the dish. However, the star ingredient is always the Cod fish which is found in abundance along the coast of Spain. This dish in fact, originated from the Basque region in Northern Spain.

Over 200 years ago when there was no refrigeration, fisherman had to find ways of preserving the fish when it was in abundance. They started to cure the fish in salt. This is actually the easiest way to find it in markets around the world. It requires soaking in water over a 24 hour period but it is well worth the wait. If you’re able to find it fresh, you can skip that part and the actual cooking time is a bit less as well.

Traditionally this dish is served around Lent season. In my grandma’s house though, we were lucky enough that she made it at least once every couple of months. This has to be hands down my favorite fish recipe of all time.

How to make Bacalao a la Vizcaina

I have never come across any other dish that tastes quite like it. This recipe has a Caribbean flare to it, being that my grandmother is from the island of Cuba. Since she never wrote down any of her recipes, everything I learned to cook from her, I learned from standing right beside her and paying close attention. I think this recipe is really really close to how she used to make it. I can’t say exact because she was never the measuring type. Everything she cooked was by eye and believe it or not, by smell (which I now do often times myself when making dishes that I could make with my eyes closed…almost).

Typically, the cod fillets are found in the seafood section of your market in it’s salted cured form. Rinse of the excess salt off the fillets. Place them in a large non-reactive pot and fill with enough cool water to fully immerse the fillets. Change the water several times over 24 hours before preparing to cook. I am happy to say that the wholesale super store near my home now carries fresh cod fillets. If you would like to use fresh fillets, check your local market, fish monger or wholesale super store 🙂

Once the cod is ready and cut into bite sized chunks about 2-3 inches. Make sure all spines have been removed. The rest of the recipe goes fairly quickly. Prepping all the ingredients in small bowls makes it easy to layer the dish inside a large heavy bottomed pot. Begin with a single layer of the sliced potatoes, followed by a layer of the cod pieces. The third layer is the onions, garlic and roasted red peppers. The final layer is a sprinkle of the capers, olives and raisins. Pour the tomato sauce over and place two bay leaves in the center. If using a medium sized pot, you will have to divide the ingredients in half and repeat these layers a second time. The final ingredient is the white wine. This dish deserves a good quality wine, please. Even though I always say, “never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink out of a glass,” this dish deserves the mention.

Layers of potatoes, cod fish, onions, garlic, capers, red peppers, olives and raisins
Layers of potatoes, cod fish, onions, garlic, capers, red peppers, olives and raisins

How to serve this dish

Even though I’ve had this dish in other countries, this version is the BEST (in my humble opinion 🙂 ). After you make this version, don’t be surprised if you may come across places where the cod fillets are steamed or fried and served over the “vizcaina sauce” rather than in a stew form as in my recipe. Some people will leave out the tomato sauce altogether and the red color of the sauce will come from the red peppers. I’ve also had it where the chef adds hard boiled egg to the dish.

As far as the side dishes, they are usually mild in flavor and only served as a complement to the dish. I recommend serving the bacalao over a bed of white rice which serves merely as a vessel for the flavorful, finger licking delicious sauce. I also like to have this with a side of fried green plantains. Don’t tell anyone, but I dig a couple of the fried plantain slices underneath the sauce and let them soak it all in…YUMMM. My mouth is literally watering right now. If you would like to serve it with something a little sweet, boiled boniato (white sweet potato) goes great with this as do fried sweet plantains.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 – 2lbs Cod fillet (fresh or thawed if frozen and cut in 2-3 inch chunks)
  • 5 Russet or yellow gold potatoes (sliced crosswise 1/2 in.)
  • 2 large yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 homemade roasted red peppers sliced thin or 15 oz. jar
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • 1/2 cup of capers
  • 1 cup of spanish pimento stuffed olives (cut crosswise)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce (no salt added)
  • 1 cup good quality dry white wine (I use a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gregio)
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt

Directions

  1. In a heavy bottomed large pot, add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Arrange the potato slices in one even layer on the bottom of the pot.
  3. Arrange the cod chunks on top of the potatoes and sprinkle with 1 tsp. of salt.
  4. Spread the sliced onions, garlic and red peppers over the cod.
  5. Sprinkle the olives, capers and raisins.
  6. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
  7. Place the two bay leaves in the center
  8. Pour the tomato sauce over the top of the vegetables, followed by the wine.
  9. Sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of salt.
  10. Bring to a simmer over high heat and then lower the heat to medium low and cover. Cook for 30-40 minutes. DO NOT stir.
  11. At around 20 minutes remove the top and look to make sure there is enough liquid. If needed add 1/4 cup of water. Cover again and finish cooking until the potatoes are fork tender.
Print

Bacalao a la Vizcaina

Bacalao a la Vizcaina is a Spanish-style Cod Fish Stew.  Chunks of melt in your mouth cod fish cooked in an aromatic and specially flavored sauce. This dish is well known around the world with different variations of some ingredients. This recipe has a Caribbean flare to it and it’s out of this world.

  • Author: Jennifer
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 45
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x
  • Category: Seafood
  • Method: Easy
  • Cuisine: Spanish
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 1/22lbs Cod fillet (fresh or thawed if frozen and cut in 23 inch chunks)
  • 5 Russet or yellow gold potatoes (sliced crosswise 1/4 in.)
  • 2 large yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 homemade roasted red peppers sliced thin or 15 oz. jar
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • 1/2 cup of capers
  • 1 cup of spanish pimento stuffed olives (cut crosswise)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce (no salt added)
  • 1 cup good quality dry white wine (I use a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gregio)
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt

Instructions

  1. In a heavy bottomed large pot, add 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Arrange the potato slices in one even layer on the bottom of the pot.
  3. Arrange the cod chunks on top of the potatoes and sprinkle with 1 tsp. of salt.
  4. Spread the sliced onions, garlic and red peppers over the cod.
  5. Sprinkle the olives, capers and raisins.
  6. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
  7. Place the two bay leaves in the center
  8. Pour the tomato sauce over the top of the vegetables, followed by the wine.
  9. Sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of salt.
  10. Bring to a simmer over high heat and then lower the heat to medium low and cover. Cook for 30-40 minutes. DO NOT stir.
  11. At around 20 minutes remove the top and look to make sure there is enough liquid. If needed add 1/4 cup of water. Cover again and finish cooking until the potatoes are fork tender.

Notes

  • This is an excellent dish to cook the day prior and reheat when ready to serve.  The flavor is that much more delicious.
  • If using a salt cured cod fillet, soak in water for 24 hours prior to cooking, changing out the water several times. Then follow the directions as indicated on the recipe.
  • This is best served with white rice.
  • A second side such as green or sweet fried plantains pair really well with this dish.

Keywords: Bacalao a la vizcaina Cod fish stew

Cheesy Egg Muffin Cups

Over the weekend we celebrated my nieces first birthday. I made some unicorn popcorn to go along with the unicorn theme. The popcorn was the perfect blend of sweet and salty and so addicting, I couldn’t stop eating it!! I also made a large tray of Arroz Imperial (Imperial Rice). This is not just any rice, however. It is a bit of a process to make and so it is usually reserved for special occasions and to feed a crowd. Shredded chicken, a layer creamy mayonnaise over the yellow rice, topped with melted mozzarella cheese. Need I say more. Crazy yumminess!!

Flavorful egg muffins tucked in a pastry cup and filled with cheese, ham and green onions
Super easy to make cheesy egg muffins in a pastry cup

In anticipation of being busy cooking for the birthday party, I decided to prepare a couple of things that my kids and hubby could just reheat and eat. These are the times when it comes in handy to have crescent roll dough packages in the fridge. They are super easy to work with and save a ton of time. I happened to have two so I used one and made breakfast muffins. I used the other to make pizza cups for lunch which are even easier to make.

What can you put inside the pastry cups

The tray of breakfast ones I made contain egg, ham and cheese for the kids. I threw in some green onions in a few of the cups for my husband and I. You could also cook bacon, sausage or whatever your favorite breakfast meat is. I have also made a version with finely chopped herbs like tarragon, chives and parsley. That is one of my favorites because it’s like having a classic French omelette in a muffin cup.

If you happen to have unexpected guests or just need to prepare a snack or appetizer before a meal, even for a quick lunch for the kids, the pizza cups version are the absolute BEST things ever!! You roll out and cut the dough the same way as for the breakfast ones. Add about 1 1/2 tbsp. of marinara sauce ( I love to use RAO’s when I don’t have homemade). Then sprinkle some shredded mozzarella and mini pepperonis and that’s it. Whoever you serve these to that love pizza will absolutely love these and they’ll think its such a cute idea.

How to keep them fresh for those on-the-go moments

The best part is, they can be stored for up to five days in an airtight container inside your fridge and reheated in the toaster oven or the microwave. The kids and my husband love them so much that I had no leftovers. Now I know I have to make two batches. Any leftovers can be frozen for up to three months.

I have to say these egg muffin cups are super yummy. They are packed with flavor. They are more nutritious than any frozen packaged breakfast thing you could buy at the store. Plus, the recipe is so versatile, you can literally make it in 1,000 different ways! The best way I can describe them is a mini version of a quiche Lorraine. This recipe was also a total time saver for me this weekend. I will be making them again today so the kids can take them on-the-go weekday mornings.

Ingredients

  • 7 extra large organic free range eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk (preferably organic whole milk)
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt (adjust depending on sodium content of other ingredients)
  • 1tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup low sodium sliced ham, chopped to 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • Fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • Non-stick cooking spray
Two egg muffins cups ready to take on-the-go for busy weekday mornings
Flavorful egg muffin cups to take on-the-go for busy weekday mornings

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°.

1. Prepare muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray in muffin tins. In a medium size bowl, whisk eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Set this aside. 
2. In a small sauté pan, melt the butter over medium high heat and cook the chopped ham for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. Roll out crescent dough on a lightly floured board to about a 9×12 rectangle. Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 12 equal squares. Press the dough squares into the greased muffin tins creating a sort of cup.
4. Begin to layer the muffin tins with the ingredients starting with the cooked ham. Then pour in about 2 tbsp of the egg mixture. Sprinkle the green onions and a top layer of shredded cheese.
5.  Bake for 13-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes before carefully transferring the egg cups onto a cooling rack. Serve hot. Enjoy!

Print

Make-Ahead Egg Muffin Cups

These egg muffin cups make breakfast so easy and delicious, you won’t want to skip it!  Make them over the weekend and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If you’re lucky enough to have any left overs you can freeze them for up to three months.  Use this basic recipe of ham, egg and cheese or change it up with your favorite herbs or breakfast meat.

  • Author: Jennifer
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 25
  • Yield: 12 Egg Muffin Cups 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Easy
  • Cuisine: American
Scale

Ingredients

  • 7 extra large organic free range eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk (preferably organic whole milk)
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt (adjust depending on sodium content of other ingredients)
  • 1tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup low sodium sliced ham, chopped to 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • Fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375°.

1. Prepare muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray in muffin tins. In a medium size bowl, whisk eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Set this aside. 
2. In a small sauté pan, melt the butter over medium high heat and cook the chopped ham for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. Roll out crescent dough on a lightly floured board to about a 9×12 rectangle. Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 12 equal squares. Press the dough squares into the greased muffin tins creating a sort of cup.
4. Begin to layer the muffin tins with the ingredients starting with the cooked ham. Then pour in about 2 tbsp of the egg mixture. Sprinkle the green onions and a top layer of shredded cheese.
5.  Bake for 13-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes before carefully transferring the egg cups onto a cooling rack. Serve hot. Enjoy!

Notes

  • These muffins can be kept refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
  • For best result reheating, use a toasted oven, but you may also use a microwave.
  • Defrost frozen muffins in the refrigerator overnight for faster warming time when needed.

Keywords: Breakfast egg muffin cups cheese ham

Chorizo and Veggie Omelet

The beautiful colors in this omelet make it almost too pretty to eat. On most days I’ll use ham for scrambled eggs and omelets, but today is no ordinary day. First of all it’s FRIDAY, but most of all I had some Spanish chorizo in my fridge that was calling my name. The complex flavors of the chorizo melt like butter into the omelet and that color..how about that color? I’m obsessed…seriously.

Continue reading “Chorizo and Veggie Omelet”

Creamy Garlic Shrimp Tortellini

Creamy garlic shrimp with mushrooms and asparagus, over a bed of fresh four cheese tortellini is a dish I made earlier last week ahead of the chaos from the storm. This is a great recipe to keep handy for a quick weeknight dinner. The fresh tortellini pasta I purchased at the store are so good you can easily serve them with a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh grated parmesan but using them as the base for these amazing shrimp I was making made all the sense in the world to me. When you try it, I think you’ll agree.

Continue reading “Creamy Garlic Shrimp Tortellini”

Easy Homemade Tomato Salsa

It’s been a couple of days since I posted a recipe. We’ve been out making preparations for Hurricane Dorian, trying to beat the crowds as the storm approaches. These are the times when I feel so blessed to have my easiest go-to recipes memorized by heart, like this super easy tomato salsa. I can just look in my refrigerator, see what I have and start cooking as much as I can. When the electricity goes out and the storm passes, all I have to do is warm the food on the gas grill. This way, the only cooking I should have to do is grilling hot dogs and hamburgers.

Continue reading “Easy Homemade Tomato Salsa”

Cuban Chicken Fricassee

This chicken fricassee recipe or fricase de pollo, as it is called in Spanish, is a throw back to my Cuban heritage. I grew up eating this dish and love it so much I make it often for my kids and they ALL love it (even my pickiest eater). It’s a great weeknight dinner because it’s easy to make, just takes a little tending to over the stove top, but it’s so worth it.

Tomato Caramelized Onion and Ricotta Tart

We’re midway through tomato season. When I went to the market today, I was sad to see the once overflowing crates of heirloom tomatoes have dwindled down to the final few. So, of course, what did I do? I bought all the ones that were left. Now I have several pounds of tomatoes and I’m racing against the clock. If you too have more tomatoes than you could possibly eat in a salad or make homemade tomato sauce with, this recipe is perfect for you. What better than a tomato, caramelized onion and ricotta tart right? And this one is the best! I have made several different tomato tarts through the years and this is by far the best ever!

Continue reading “Tomato Caramelized Onion and Ricotta Tart”