A Salt Cod Breakfast

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Years ago I was lamenting to my daughter that I miss salt cod. At the time she lived in London, and assured me she could grab some for me at a local Portuguese market. And indeed, before a summer visit, she purchased some and put it in her suitcase.

Did you catch the word “summer?” I picked her up at the airport in Oklahoma City, then we went to lunch and did some shopping…. all the while forgetting about the salt cod in the trunk of my car. Well, that was a lesson learned. Do not ever leave salt cod in a hot car!

But I finally have my hands on some salt cod after years of searching, thanks to Whole Foods. This recipe is an attempt to duplicate a dish my mother made years ago. I’m not sure about the specifics, but I think I remember all of the major components. It involves salt cod, potatoes, onions, a white sauce and a poached egg. Capers optional, but highly recommended!

If you need information on how to prepare salt cod, please refer to Salt Cod.

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I made this breakfast dish recently in order to take better photos than I had in 2013, and I used small Yukon gold potatoes instead of red ones. In case you notice!

Salt Cod and Poached Egg with White Sauce and Capers
Serves 4

1/2 stick butter
1 large onion, sliced
4 small red potatoes, cut into 3/4″ cubes
12 ounces prepared salt cod, cut into pieces
1/4 cup whole milk
4 poached eggs, prepared at the last minute

White sauce:
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 3/4 cups half and half

Capers, for serving

Heat the butter in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté them for about 10 minutes. They should be nicely caramelized. Then stir in the chopped potatoes.

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Push the pieces of cod under the potatoes and onions, then pour the milk over the top. Make sure the mixture boils, then cover the skillet and turn down the heat to the lowest position. Cook for 20 minutes without disturbing it.

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After cooking, the mixture will look like this:

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To make the white sauce, melt 1/2 stick butter in a pan over medium heat. When it has completely melted, add the flour and whisk together well. Then pour in the half and half, whisking all the while, and continue mixing until it thickens. See white sauce if you’ve never made one. If you like, season the sauce with black or white pepper.

To prepare the individual servings, divide the salt cod, potato and onion mixture between four bowls. Partially cover with the white sauce, and gently add the poached eggs.

I also like adding cayenne pepper flakes or Tabasco sauce to this dish. Just for some zing.