Tag Archives: baccala

Excerpt from La Cucina Povera

Excerpt from La Cucina Povera

From an article in Gastronomica about my family’s cooking –

Excerpt from La Cucina Povera. . . There’s none of that restaurant-style lasagna or ‘‘veal parm’’ in our cookbook with their rubbery layers of mozzarella and loads of garlic. For us there’s no simple thing called ‘‘spaghetti sauce’’; we have dozens of sauces that go with various types of pasta in strict combination. Most of the recipes we include are the ones our grandmother, Nicolina, brought with her to America from Salerno more than a hundred years ago. This is truly la cucina povera, the cooking of the poor.

Excerpt from La Cucina Povera

. . . The next course was pasta frutti di mare. If guests asked for cheese to sprinkle on their pasta, we of course had to tell them they couldn’t have any. Everyone should know it’s a mortal sin to put cheese on seafood. The pasta course was followed by other things that swim and were available at the end of December. A standard was 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.

Excerpt from La Cucina Povera

. . . We’d also serve cured meats like prosciutto and capocollo but which we pronounce in Grandma’s dialect, ‘‘braschute’’ and ‘‘gabbagoul.’’

Excerpt from La Cucina Povera

. . .  When I think about my childhood family meals I can still smell fresh-cut lemons and dried oregano, and hear the sizzle of my mother’s breaded veal cutlets frying in olive oil. The shades of color in an arugula, romaine, and blood orange salad bring back memories of much more than just something to eat.

Excerpt from La Cucina Povera

. . . I handed my fourteen-year-old granddaughter, Molly, a sharp knife, a cutting board, and five pounds of sardines and asked her to clean them. After I showed her how it to do it, she worked on them until she was left with a neat pile of fillets, without once saying ‘‘Ew’’ or ‘‘Yuck.’’

Excerpt from La Cucina Povera

. . .  As I unwrapped it and put the heart on the kitchen counter, Bridget left the room and wouldn’t come back. . . I don’t remember ever seeing anything like that in my Mother’s kitchen, and it didn’t look at all like the dainty bits in the finished dish she served. I didn’t know where to start and after calling Nicki, found she didn’t either, so I Googled, ‘‘preparation beef heart,’’ and came up with a method of cleaning it.

Complete article – La Cucina Povera

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dried baccala

“… 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.

Baccala Salad

baccala salad

baccala salad ingredients

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.

Baccala Stew

baccala stew

bacalla stew ingredients

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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