Bacalhau Com Natas

To start the week off, we will start with likely the most popular dish served in Portuguese cuisine, Bacalhau com Natas. This dish has more variations than anybody can count, and this version happens to be my favorite way to enjoy this cod fish delight, as it also happens to be the favorite of many Portuguese food lovers around the world. It is made with “natas”, or heavy cream, and can be very simple to make with this easy and traditional recipe.

1/2 pounds of salted cod, cut in 4 pieces
2 onions, peeled and sliced thin
1 3/4 cups milk
4 tablespoons Portuguese olive oil (you should be able to find some locally, if not you can always buy some here on Amazon)
1/2 pound of potatoes, peeled and sliced
3 tablespoons of regular flour
1/4 cups of water
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon of pepper
3 tablespoons shredded cheese
1/2 cup of heavy cream

1) Begin by soaking the cod in the refrigerator. After 24-48 hours in cold water or milk, drain the cod, rinse, and drain again.

2) Remove bones and skin and pull the cod into small shreds, set aside.

3) In a heavy skillet over low heat, saute the onion in olive oil until soft and golden.

4) Stir-fry the potatoes in the oil in a second heavy skillet over low heat about 3 minutes, add the water, turn the heat to its lowest, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes.

5) When the onions are softly golden, mix in the cod and 1/2 cup milk, cover and cook over lowest heat, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.

6) While the cod cooks, prepare a white sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan over moderate heat and blend in the flour, add the remaining milk and heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Blend in the pepper and reserve.

7) When the cod has only 10 minutes more to cook, preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. When the cod is done, mix in the potatoes, white sauce, and cream.

8) Transfer to a baking casserole dish and cover it with the shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for 15 min. Then lower to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and let it bake for another 20 to 25 minutes.

9) Once done, remove it from the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes and then it is ready to serve.


  1. Samantha van Lunzen

    Having lived in Portugal for 20 years I can honestly say this recipe is delicious and quite authentic! My husband likes texture so I add a couple of tablespoons of fine breadcrumbs on top before I bake it, gives a crunchy topping.

  2. Greta Reis

    Thank you for this recipe.We often have this for Sunday lunch at the Portuguese Club in Brisbane

  3. Jude Irwin

    My only comment is this: where in heavens name can one buy fresh cream in Portugal? I have looked high and low, and all that is available is “nata para bater” from Nestle, which is horrid long life yuck pretending to be cream – very thin and bland. Not good for beating, as is suggested and certainly without the flavour or body of good, fresh cream. I substitute evaporated milk – available in some larger supermarkets such as Continente. I agree about needing texture. You could try a variation – cod with onions in a white sauce (or better still, a properly made bechamel) below, with parboiled, sliced potatoes brushed with milk and butter, sprinkled with plenty of coarse-ground black pepper and grated cheese. São Jorge cheese from the Azores is good. It’s effectively crispy, cheesy pommes au gratin on top and soft and creamy cod below. Serve with fresh, fresh veggies or a good mixed salad.

  4. eu

    @Jude Irwin: You can do this with the long life cream (pasteurized).

  5. Kenneth Cabral

    If you want a simple way to make this recipe, rather than making your own cream sauce use Alfredo sauce. If you look at the ingrediences on the jar you’ll find that they are essentially the same as this recipe.

  6. M. Clars

    my favorite dish! this is a good basic recipe. BUT i don’t put cheese on it. that’s not traditional in my family. (and destroys the delicate balance of creamy fish flavor in my opinion)

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