bacalhau espiritual
Bacalhau Espiritual
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Resting Time
1 d
Total Time
1 hr 20 mins

Bacalhau espiritual is a comforting Portuguese casserole prepared with salt cod, carrot, bread, Bechamel sauce and topped with cheese that is melted and broiled to perfection.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Portuguese
Servings: 8 people
Author: Mike Benayoun
  • 1 lb bacalhau (salt cod)
  • 1 onion , chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 3 slices stale white bread , broken into small pieces
  • 1 cup milk (hot), to soak bread
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 oz. grated cheese (e.g. mozzarella, Swiss cheese, or Parmesan)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
For the Bechamel sauce
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  1. Soak the bacalhau in cold water for 24 hours, changing the water 2 to 3 times.

  2. In a pot, bring water to a boil, then lower the heat. Add the bacalhau, and simmer for about 6 to 8 minutes.

  3. Remove the cod from the pot with a skimmer. Remove the skin and bones, then shred it finely and reset asideserve.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  5. Soak the bread in the hot milk.

  6. Bechamel sauce
  7. Add the butter to a pan and melt it over medium heat.
  8. Add the flour and stir well. Then, add the milk and simmer over low heat, while stirring until the sauce has thickened.
  9. Adjust with more milk if too thick, or more flour if too thin.
  10. Season with nutmeg, pepper and salt.
  11. Add the olive oil to another pan on low to medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and grated carrots and sweat for 5 minutes.
  12. Add the shredded codfish and the soaked bread and cook for a couple more minutes.
  13. Mix well and add half of the Bechamel sauce.
  14. Grease a baking dish with olive oil and add the codfish mixture.
  15. Pour the remaining half of Bechamel sauce on top.
  16. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top and place in the oven for 25 minutes.
  17. Switch oven to broil setting and gratinate for 5 minutes.