In the past baccalà, salt cod, played an extremely significant role in rural diets because it was one of the few kinds of fish available for Friday and the other days that the Church decreed meatless. We're fortunate that in addition to traveling and keeping well it's tasty; though it's a little firmer and saltier than fresh cod it's still quite mild and very versatile, the perfect foil for all sorts of sauces. This recipe is from the Marche region. To serve 6 you'll need:
Preparing baccalà and other recipes
La Galleria Del pesce, the Fish Gallery
- 1 1/3 pounds (600 g) soaked baccalà (see instructions below if need be)
- A carrot, minced
- 2 ribs celery, minced
- a medium-sized onion, minced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 8 ounces (200 g) bell peppers packed in oil, finely sliced
- 4 ounces (100 g) mild black olives
- A handful of salted capers, rinsed (you can use pickled if need be, but rinse well)
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons flour
- A small bunch parsley, minced
- Salt, pepper and a hot pepper, shredded
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 60 minutes
PreparationBegin by boiling the soaked baccalà for 15 minutes, Drain it, pat it dry, cut it into moderately small pieces, and flour them lightly. Put the pieces in a broad skillet with the oil and brown them on both sides, then sprinkle them with the wine.
In the meantime, sauté the minced onion, carrot, celery, and hot pepper in some olive oil in a high sided pot. When the onions have browned lightly stir in the tomato paste, thinly sliced peppers, olives, capers, and about a half cup of hot water.
Bring to a boil and cook for a couple of minutes, then season to taste with salt and pepper, keeping in mind that the baccalà will be saltier than fresh fish.
Pour the sauce over the baccalà, dust everything with the minced parsley, gently add two ladles of hot water, cover, and simmer for two hours, checking every now and then to see if you need to add water; the sauce should be thick but not dry.
The wine? Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi.
A note: This sauce will also work well with mildly flavored filets of fresh fish too, though you won't want to simmer them for anywhere near as long, because they'll break apart.