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Salt Cod Gratin

1 lb Center cut salt cod
2 c Milk
1/2 c Water; or more if needed
8 lg Garlic cloves
2 Bay leaves
4 Whole cloves
1 ts Fresh or dried thyme
3 lg Parsley sprigs
1/2 lb Peeled; quartered boiling potatoes
1/3 c Fragrant extra-virgin olive oil; plus
2 tb Fragrant extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 c Heavy cream; optional
Salt; to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper; to taste
Nutmeg; to taste

Lightly toasted croutes made from
A good peasant style bread

Place the salt cod in cold water and soak for 2 to 3 days, changing the water at least 2 times each day to reduce saltiness. Add milk, water, garlic, bay leaves, cloves, thyme and parsley sprigs to a sauce pan and add soaked cod. Liquid should completely cover and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes. In a separate sauce pan, add potatoes to lightly salted boiling water and simmer until very tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. Drain cod, reserving poaching liquid and discard bay leaves, cloves and parsley sprigs. Flake fish and discard any skin, bones or brown spots. In a food processor or blender, add cod mixture, potatoes, 1/2 cup of the reserved milk poaching liquid, 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, heavy cream and process for at least 3 minutes until very smooth and fluffy. Be sure to occasionally scrape down sides of bowl. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Place mixture in a lightly-oiled baking dish and drizzle top with remaining olive oil. Place in a preheated 450 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed and top is lightly browned. (You can also place under the broiler for the last minute or two to brown.) Serve immediately with plenty of toasted croutes to scoop up the gratin.

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