“… A standard is baccala, dried cod fish, prepared both as a salad and a stew. It’s so dry it resembles a plank of wood when you buy it. Although caught and processed in the North Atlantic, dried cod has been a Mediterranean staple for centuries where the Norwegian klippfisk became the Italian baccala and the French morue. It must be soaked in cold water for days, changing the water often, to soften it and remove the salt used in the drying process before you can even think about cooking it.” – La Cucina Povera
Two family baccala recipes from Nicki –
In order to prepare baccala it must be soaked in cold water at least two days prior to cooking. Baccala can be bought in a supermarket. It comes in a package. Buy the boned baccala. If the supermarket doesn’t have it you can go to an Italian market. This baccala will be dried and resemble a fossil. Either one is fine, but both must be soaked in cold water. Put the baccala in a container and cover with cold water. Loosely cover the container and change the water two times a day by running cold water over it for a few minutes.
Rinse the baccala and put it up to boil in a large pot of water. Do not salt the water.
The fish may still be salty. Season to taste afterwards. Bring to a rapid boil and cook for five minutes. Drain in a colander. Flake the baccala with your fingers when cool.
Place the fish in a large bowl and add the sliced onions, celery and avocado. Mix it well. Add the oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with the oregano. Drain the liquid from the jar of olives and add to the bowl. Mix well. Taste the salad before adding salt. Add pepper to taste. This salad can be prepared in advance then refrigerated.
Although the ingredients are similar to the baccala salad this stew has an entirely different flavor.
Coat the bottom of a deep baking pan with oil. Add the baccala, par-boiled potatoes, onions and celery, olives, oregano and bay leaf. Mix them well. Pour the can of crushed tomatoes over the top of the mixture. Sprinkle the oregano over the top. Make sure the tomatoes get down to the bottom of the pan. This can be done by jiggling the pan carefully or by placing a slotted spoon in the mixture and moving it around a bit. Bake in a pre-heated 350o oven for approximately 45 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked. Serve hot with Italian bread.
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