Skillet Salt Cod Casserole (Bacalhau à Brás)


It is said that there are over 700 different ways to prepare Portuguese style cod fish.  Bacalhau à Brás is one of the more popular and certainly one of the most famous ways to enjoy this versatile ingredient.

One might wonder why salt cod is so important and prevalent to the Portuguese cuisine.  But, one must only think about the historical aspect of the Portuguese culture to understand it.  The Portuguese have long been famous sea-faring people.  From the great Prince Henry the Navigator to Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese ruled the seas and for a short time in history were the most powerful nation in the world because of it.  So what sustained all those great sailors?  Why… salt cod of course.  While I’m sure the Portuguese had other foods among their mighty ships, salt cod was an easy sustainable and very easily stored source of protein for the men who braved the oceans for centuries.  It could be kept in a ship hold for months or even years if need be and if they ran out all they need do is make more right out on the ocean.

This particular dish is not something I would call a “weeknight” meal.  There are several stages to preparing the recipe not least of which includes soaking the cod overnight and changing out the water several times to tame down it’s saltiness.  Then there is the preparing of the potatoes which in my recipe are first par boiled and then fried.  Then making the sautéed onions, garlic and pepper and preparing the eggs.  Do this on a Friday night for lent or on a Sunday for lunch and you are sure to be pleased!

These are bits of salt cod soaking in water. I soaked them over night and changed the water 3 times before I used it in this dish.

This is one bit of cod. Place on a plate to work with it. Or you can place a bunch in a bowl, but be sure it has been drained.

The goal is to break apart the fish into small chunks, but not to shred it.

This should be your end result. This is now ready to add to your recipe.

Crack eggs into a large-ish bowl.

Beat well with a fork.

Fresh flat leaf parsley is very needed in this recipe for it’s freshness and taste. If you have curly leaf, that’s ok… but best is Italian Flat Leaf.

Roughly chop parsley.

Very thinly slice your onions.

Thinly slice and then dice your garlic.

Add cold/room temperature water to new potatoes and parboil for 10 minutes.

Once potatoes have been boiling for 10 minutes, drain water and allow to cool before working with them.

Cut in half to further allow for cooling.

The peels should easily come right off without taking any actual potato with them, in other words, you should be able to just remove the skin without any flesh.

Cut potatoes into a thin match stick type french fry.

Heat oil to the point of forming bubbles on the end of a wooden spoon when inserted. Or you can test oil by placing one piece of potato in and if it bubbles right up, the oil is ready. Once this happens keep heat to med/high.

Once fries come to this color, remove and place on some paper to drain. Lightly salt with kosher salt right away. (Do not over do it with the salt, remember the cod will be salty on its own.)

Sautée onions in olive oil over medium heat.

Once onions start to take on some color, add in garlic.

Add in some Pimenta Moida. (if you don’t have this handy, add in 1 tsp. dried pepper flakes.

Continue sautéing.

Add in prepared chunked cod. Stir to marry the flavors.

Add in reserved french fries.

Add egg and stir quickly so this doesn’t turn into an omelet.

Add in some parsley.

Once egg has almost set, add olives and finish with more parsley and a drizzle of olive oil.



Bacalhau à Brás

Serves 6


1 – 1 1/2 lbs. salt cod tid bits, soaked, drained and chuncked

7-8 medium new potatoes, par boiled, peeled and cut into matchstick fries

8 lg. eggs, well beaten

4 onions, thinly sliced in rings

4 garlic cloves, sliced and chopped

4 Tbs. pimenta moida (alternatively 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes)

1/2 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley, plus more for garnish

1/2 cup olive oil, plus more to finish dish

1 cup vegetable oil for frying potatoes only

1 cup olives (optional)


Fry dry cut potatoes in either a skillet with 1 cup of veggie oil or in a deep fryer until golden.  Drain on pepper towels and lightly salt.

Sautée onions in a skillet with olive oil over med. heat.  When onions start to take on color, add in garlic, sautée another minute.  Add in Pimenta Moida, sautée another minute. Add in chunked cod, continue to sautée a few minutes.  Add french fries and stir to incorporate.  Add in egg and stir to coat all ingredients in the skillet.  Immediately add parsley and stir.  Cook until egg is almost set.  Garnish with additional parsley, olives and drizzle with fresh olive oil.  Serve hot.


2 thoughts on “Skillet Salt Cod Casserole (Bacalhau à Brás)

  1. Linda says:

    Made this dish for Friday night meal and it was Delicious. Husband
    said to keep this recipe for future meals. Thanks for your recipes and
    keep them coming. :-}

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