January in a Portuguese kitchen with the stove on for 3 hours baking and getting lunch ready means you must be prepared for one thing: to freeze your butt off. Be sure to have a hat on your head and a sweater of some sort to cover your arms or you will be sure to shiver off any extra holiday padding that you acquired over December. Go outside though and you have to remove at least one of those extra pieces of clothing if not both.
I blame it all on the stone, concrete and marble that the buildings are made of here. Marble is everywhere, not because it's gorgeous but because it's cheaper (or at least easier to get) than wood. When looking at houses being built, there are no wood frames; it's all poured concrete and rebar and at least a foot thick. Building facades don't have wood or aluminum siding, they instead have stone or a specific kind of plaster and paint. This creates sturdy housing that lasts for centuries, but damn it's cold.
I often forget to don the knitted cap and a cardigan (or in most cases my hoodie, but shhh about that. the Portuguese fashion police might come and get me if they knew I am a terribly dressed Americana that doesn't care about how I look at home) when I go to cook in the kitchen. Kitchens are supposed to be warm and comforting. Yeah... well the Portuguese kitchen hasn't gotten the message. Maybe I can get a fire place installed in place of the oven...
Speaking of Portuguese kitchens, I did have a whole reason for this post besides to say I cook in a freaking ice cube of a kitchen, food!
This oven roasted bacalhau (salted cod fish) is a fairly usual occurrence here. Bacalhau is one of the most common foods you'll find here, but that doesn't mean it's always the same dish over and over. This one in particular is simple and so easy. It also only requires you to have 5 ingredients. You can always add more or take out a couple too. Oh and did I mention it's healthy? That is of course after you've soaked the salted cod for 24-48 hours to remove the excess salt.
Oven Roasted Bacalhau with Lemon
Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
Lay out a thin layer of onions in a large baking dish and drizzle with just a little olive oil. Place the bacalhau filets on top of the onions, alternating between skin side up and skin side down. Put another layer of onions on top of the fish along with the sliced garlic and lemon. Drizzle a bit more olive oil on top.
Cook in the oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes. If it's frozen, tack on another 15 minutes or so.
Remove from the oven and serve with roasted potatoes.
Note: If you have salted cod that needs to be soaked, place it in a large bowl and top with water. Change the water every 4-6 hours for at least 24 hours. If you aren't using the fish right away, you can freeze it for later use.
Notice the recipe doesn't ask for salt, there will be enough to flavor the dish still left in the fish after soaking but it's not overwhelming unless you don't do this VERY necessary step.