An old recipe, handed down through the generations….
A dried piece of stoccafisso (the best kind of dried codfish to use)….
Three days of patient waiting…
My mom’s family hailed from the Veneto region of Italy where Baccala’ recipes originated. Served on top of polenta, it was a poor man’s delight during those cold nights of winter. Families always had a dried piece of cod in their pantry…it kept forever and they knew that they could follow their “Fish on Friday” mandate of the Church in case fresh fish wasn’t available. I guess they were better dinner planners in those days because in order to prepare the Baccala’, they needed at least three days!
Just last week, my Italian cousin found this recipe and was inspired to make it! This version is known as Baccala’ Ragno!
The first thing he had to do was beat the dried fish with a piece of wood. This breaks up the tough fibers and softens it a bit.
Here is a translation of the above recipe – I didn’t translate word for word to make the recipe read better in English!
1. Beat the baccala’ wrapped up in a rag (with a stick or a meat pounder).
2. Submerse it in cold water for 3 days – changing the water 2 times per day.
3. Skin it and remove the spine. Cut it into clean pieces.
4. Saute 1 minced onion, 3 chopped garlic cloves, and a handful of chopped parsley in some olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. (Optional: add 3 or 4 salted and chopped sardines).
5. Add the baccala’ and 1 1/2 cups white wine. Add a vegetable bouillon cube and simmer for a while.
6. Add some water and cook slowly for about 3 hours. Occasionally add some wine or water so that it doesn’t dry out.
7. Halfway through the cooking, add 2 cups of milk.
8. When it is almost done, add some grated Parmesan or Grana cheese and some more milk if needed to make a creamy consistency.
Technology is wonderful….He could share the cooking process with me almost instantly….but, sadly, it hasn’t evolved yet to the point where I can actually taste a bite of this delicious family recipe! Buon appetito!