View Full Version : Christmas Eve Baccala

22-12-20, 21:36
This is the way my mother (from the Lunigiana) made it, so it's based on her style of cooking it. I'm sorry I don't have exact measurements, but it's a forgiving recipe; you can make adjustments as you go.

I start out with about a pound and a half of salted cod. I put it in a big glass bowl in cold water for two to three days, changing the water perhaps three times a day. It's to desalinate and soften it. You have to use your judgment; some are "softer" than others, so not as much salt, so stop when you see it isn't firm and meaty.

You then cut it into pieces. If you just got the filets, you can use all of it in the same stewed recipe. If it's a whole side of the fish, the thinner pieces can be boiled and added to boiled potatoes, parsley and garlic and olive oil for a salad.

Dry the cut up pieces (size to your taste, but the smaller they are the less the amount of cooking time at the end) and pass in flour on all sides. Then fry in hot extra virgin olive oil. You're not deep frying, so it doesn't have to be a ton of oil, but it soaks up quite a bit so make sure there's enough. Also make sure to shake off the excess flour; you don't want a gummy coating. Once the pieces are light golden on both sides, remove them from the pan.

To the pan, add a little more olive oil if necessary. Then smash 3 good size garlic cloves and add them. Also add the chopped needles of two fresh sprigs of rosemary. Saute them.

When the garlic is translucent, you have a few choices. You can add imported Italian puree of tomato (there has to be enough "liquid" to stew the baccala, and the amount is also dependent on whether you want a lot of tomato sauce or a moderate amount), or whole canned San Marzano type pelati (peeled) tomatoes, which you can smash with your hands and add the whole can, neither of which I like because I think all the resulting tomato sauce overpowers the taste of the baccala.

What I do is saute some halved cherry tomatoes, add a generous tablespoon of tomato paste, and let them saute together for a couple of minutes, and then I add a generous amount of boiling water, because I want a lot of juice. When it is bubbling I return the baccala to the mixture, cover the pan and let it simmer on medium or medium low for 20-25 minutes until done. In the middle of this process you can test for not only "doneness" but saltiness. If you overdid the desalination, this is the time to correct for that. You can also add some capers along with the olives which go in during the last 10 minutes of cooking.


Often, mine is even less "tomatoey" than this.