Baccala

by George Rini
(Carol Stream, IL, U.S.A.)

Ok! Ok! I need help in putting together all the recipes that are in the hearts and minds of our family and friends. I am a hopeless romantic. You all know what I mean. Over the past several years we have lost many of our relatives whose cooking made us feel forever blessed that we were part of there lives. That warm soup on a cold winter day. That special holiday that the food we all loved was available - that special Thursday (Oh pick a date and time – I don’t know, you know what I mean.)


I will share one with you I just got the other day from my aunt.

It is a fish dish. Salted Cod – Baccala – A special favorite

INGREDIENTS

This all depends on how many you are cooking for – it was just me at home (I do not have anyone at home who wants to risk eating my attempt at my aunt’s recipe for the first time)

  • 1 LB of Salt Cod – I picked up mine from Supreme Lobster in Villa Park – It comes in a box (Canadian via Boston)
  • 1 bunch of long thin, green onions
  • 3 – 4 stalks of celery
  • Hot Peppers (I used one small habanero pepper – you choose how much heat you want)
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 pint (6 – 8) Calamata olives – (I used my father-in-laws Sicilian olives – they were great) I forgot to go to the store and pick these up so I made a substitution.
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil – get the good stuff don’t be cheap

    Good fresh Italian bread

    Home made Red wine (mix with seven up if you really have too)

    POLENTA (enough to serve about 1/4 cup with each serving of Baccala) I used 1 cup with 4 cups of water (Nothing special just boil and whisk in the "corn meal" yea! yea! that’s all it is – flavor it as you wish) I had one serving leftover.

  • PREPARATION

  • Prep time and cooking about two days (the soaking of the fish to remove the salt) otherwise about an hour and a half
  • First, take the Baccala about a 1/2 LB and immerse it in cold water. Change the water out a few times over a two (2) day period. You are reconstituting the fish and removing the salt that was used to dry cure the fish for long term storage. Place the remainder back in the freezer for another day (or use it all if you have someone willing to eat this with you).

  • Take the bunch of onions (3-4, 4-6) and remove the top green portion (set this aside for some other days soup recipe) – approximately four (4) inches.
  • Take the celery and cut into four inch strips
  • Now take the celery and onion and cut in half or thirds (1 1/4 or 2 inch strips – julienne the celery and onion) and set aside.
  • Take the hot pepper/s and remove the seeds (again depends on how hot you want this). Chop up the pepper into strips and combine with the celery and onion.
  • In a sauce pan heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil and add the celery, onion, and hot pepper. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the celery is tender.
  • Take the tomatoes and remove the seeds (squeeze the seeds out in the sink). Chop the tomato up. About half way through the celery cooking process, start adding the tomatoes.
  • I added about a cup of cold water at this time. It increases the broth which I like to dip the fresh Italian bread into.
  • Take the fish and drain all the water and pat dry.
  • In a small frying pan add 2 – 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Quickly brown the Baccala on each side and add it to the onions and celery.
  • Simmer all of this for about 15 minutes more.
  • Add the olives in the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking time
  • After you add the olives make the POLENTA. It is like farina, just make it you’ll love it. Add about two tablespoons of salted butter (SALT! Yes)
  • Take a large spoon (1/4 cup) of the polenta and put it into one of those deep pasta serving bowls – you know the one I mean – we ate everything in those bowls back in the day – I have a set of six.
  • Now add the Baccala with the broth. MMM GOOOD.

    I hope you can all recall a few recipes that you want to share. Just ask that special relative. They cannot wait to share. It will all be lost forever if we do not ask and keep records.

    Thanks so much for reading my crap. You need to call me if you want to know which aunt this is from!


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