Bacalao a la Vizcaína is one of the dishes that brings Mexican families together for a Noche Buena celebration. Inspired by a popular dish in Spain's Basque country, it was adapted to become a Mexican staple. The salt cod is great as leftovers and made into bacalao tortas for the next day.
Soak the salt cod in a large bowl of cold water for at least 24 hours in the refrigerator. Rinse, drain and dry on a towel-lined plate. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Heat the olive oil in a 7.5-quart Dutch oven or heavy saucepan over medium heat until warm. Add the garlic and onions and cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the white parts of the scallions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but with no color, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until the paste is caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until evaporated, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, cover and cook over medium-low heat until the tomatoes soften, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the roasted red bell peppers and continue to cook at a low simmer for another 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover by 2 inches with salted water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Adjust the heat to medium low and simmer until the potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and add to the stew, stirring gently to combine.
Shred the rinsed salt cod by hand and add to the pot with the cooked tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. Cover and cook over low heat until the cod melds into the stew, 15 to 20 minutes.
Stir in the capers and brine, olives with juice and half of the scallion greens. Taste and add salt, if necessary. Serve topped with the remaining scallion greens.
It’s crucial to soak the salt cod as long as possible so the cod is flaky and the dish doesn’t come out overly salty.
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