Venetian style Cod fish (Baccala’ alla Veneta)

Baccala' alla Veneta

Baccalà alla Veneta (Venetian style Cod fish) is salted cod: codfish that has been dried and preserved in salt.  In the past it was considered the food of the poor, because cheap and not fresh.  The truth, though, is that nowadays is quite an expensive kind of sea food and well cooked baccalà is a delight: firm, slightly chewy, and not at all fishy in flavor.  Baccala' alla Veneta

I made Baccala’ this past Christmas Eve because it’s a traditional Christmas Eve’s dish in the Northern Italy, but I found the courage to post it only today, not because it’s hard to prepare, but just because it was a  little tricky to me explaining in English the method!

As I told already, Venetian Style Cod fish (Baccala’ alla Veneta) is actually stock fish or dried cod. What the rest of Italy calls stoccafisso the “Vicentini” call baccalà, simmered in milk until it becomes libidinously creamy. However, my recipe is unique* because as a child I’ve lived at the border between two Italian “counties” (province): Vicenza and Treviso, so my mother’s styled Baccala’ it’s a mix of the traditional recipes of these two areas.

Before starting with ingredients and method, be aware that Baccalà requires soaking ahead of time,  since it is heavily salted for preservation. Many Italian delicatessens sell pre-soaked baccalà on Fridays, but I recall my mom preferring to buy it and soak it herself, because cheaper, and because she could select the piece she wanted and tailor the soaking to fit it.

Here in Mid West I could easily find a “salted codfish” stored in 1 lb. sized wooden box. To prepare it, I rinsed the salt off and soaked it in cold water for 12 or more hours, depending upon its thickness (remember to keep it refrigerated during soaking,) changing the water 2 to 3 times. Once it has soaked, this kind of cod fish is ready to be cooked.

DIRECTION for a very big pan of baccala’

2 lbs. sea salted cod – 1 kg. baccala’

1 clove garlic – 1 spicchio d’aglio

1 lb. white onion  – 500 gr. cipolle bianche

1 pinch nut meg  – 1 pizzico noce moscata

about 1/4 gal. whole milk – 1 litro di latte intero

1 tbs. Italian parsley to taste – prezzemolo quanto basta

14 oz. Extra Virgin olive oil – 1/2 lt. olio extravergine di oliva

flour for breading – farina per la panatura

1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese – 100 gr. Parmigiano gratuggiato

7 anchovies – 7 acciughe

DIRECTION

First of all make sure to have all the ingredients ready to go: peel and finely chop the onions, peel the garlic, wash and finely chop the parsley, grate the parmesan and pat dry the anchovies. Bread the cod fillets, previously pat dried.

In a very large nonstick pan heat about  8 oz. (250 ml.) Extravergin olive oil and garlic and then cook the cod filets on all sides until brow, at high heat. It will take about five minutes.

Once browned, throw the garlic away, move the cod filets in a plate, add a little of Extravegin olive oil to the same pan and cook the mix of onions, parsley and anchovies for about 5 minutes at lower heat, stirring every now and then to avoid burning.

After about 5 minutes, add the browned cod filets to the onion and keep cooking until the onion becomes translucent and the cod starts breaking in smaller pieces. Add the parmesan and the nutmeg and keep stirring occasionally until the onion is completely cooked. It will take about 8-10 minutes.

Warm up half of the milk (a couple of minutes in the microwave), move the mix in a oven pan, cover the mix with the milk and bake at 360 F (180 C) for about one hour. If after 30 minutes the cod seems too dry, add the rest of milk (previously warmed up). When done, your cod fish will have a yummy crunchy crust on top.

Let the cod cool off a few minutes and serve still warm, possibly sided with polenta.

OMG, this dish is simply heaven! Your house will smell delicious and not “fishy” at all!

LEARTN IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS AND FACTS:

– Venetian style Cod Fish usually crumbles on the plate when served and I wasn’t able to get a decent picture to post. That is why I used the one from the cook book my mom’s has taken as inspiration*, as feature image (sorry about that!). The book I am talking about  is called “Cucina e Tradizione nel Veneto“, it’s very old and probably not on the market anymore. It’s a collection of Venetian recipes written by the “ISTITUTI ALBERGHIERI DEL VENETO” and this is the cover’s picture:

– Venetian style Cod Fish is a very rich food (think about the quantity of olive oil needed). That’s why it doesn’t require special side dishes but polenta (or maybe a simple salad).

– Leftovers can be frozen and taste absolutely the same when thaw. I usually freeze it in small portions to have just enough for one meal.

– Some fancy Italian Bars serve Baccala’ as appetizer, scooped in small cups over a polenta serving. It warms the tummies and goes very well with “SPRITZ“.

– As I told you, while you soak the cod the previous day, you’ll have to keep it refrigerated. Well, if the baked cod smells delicious, the dried one smells terribly, so I would suggest to cover it with a plastic foil, and – if cold enough – to store it in the garage or in a second refrigerator away from kitchen and living room (LOL).

WHAT DO YOU THINK? HAVE YOU EVER EATEN BACCALA’?

WOULD YOU TRIED IT, AFTER READING MY POST?

I HOPE SO !!!

MUCH LOVE

SILVIA

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Baked sea scallops au gratin: with shells is so much fancier!

Hi everyone! I hope you had a nice week (at least we finally had some sunny days here in IOWA).

Today I would like to share with you my recipe for baked scallops au gratin (Cape Sante gratinate). Maybe some of you don’t know that in Italy (and in other parts of Europe for sure) scallops are sold at fish markets still in their shells and in all their parts (not only the “abductor muscle”, the white meaty part but also the orange “coral”), and even when you go to eat sea food in Italian restaurants, scallops are always served in their shells and with their orange part (the roe or coral) still attached. I’ve surfed on the  web to try to find out the reasons why scallops in the Mid West are sold only out of their shells and without the roe, and some are economical (is much cheaper to commercialize scallops without their shells and inflated with water) and others are apparently for safety reasons. Anyway, in my opinion whole fresh scallops in their shell is something that should absolutely be tried at least once in life, because the taste is much better and intense (the roe is delicious, in taste it is very similar to the scallop muscle itself, only a bit more briny; which to some, is a major bonus)  and because – and I think you could agree with me – they look much more appealing!

By the way, you all know I live in the USA, so, to overcome my problem (sea scallops without the shell)  I bought the shells online and prepared my scallops the Italian way. Once again you will forgive me if the quantities of ingredients I will provide are just merely indicative because this recipe is one of those where I always eyeball the ingredients.  Remember to rinse your scallops and pat them dry with a paper towel before to place them in the shells. Preparing them will take just few minutes and baking time is approximately 20-30 minutes.  It’s the perfect appetizer for impressing your guests, or for a romantic dinner (don’t forget their aphrodisiac attributes).

INGREDIENTS FOR 12 SCALLOPS (4 servings)

12 scallop’s shells

12 fresh scallops washed and patted dry

fresh parsley finely chopped

about 2 oz. (150 ml.) extravergin olive oil

2-3 tbs. Brandy or Cognac

sea salt to tast

about 2/3 tbs. plain crumble bread

powdered garlic to taste (optional)

lemon slices for decoration

DIRECTIONS

Rinse you fresh scallops and pat them dry with a paper towel. Arrange the shells in a big (or two smalls) oven sheet and place the mollusks in the “corner” of each shell (this way the dressing you are about to add, will cover completely the scallops).

Prepare the dressing: in a 8 oz. sized bowl mix 2 oz. (150 ml.) extravergin olive oil, 2-3 tbs. cognac (or brandy), 1 pinch sea salt, a couple tsp. finely chopped parsley, 1 pinch powdered garlic and – one at a time – two or three tbs. crumbled bread.

Cover the scallops with about two tbs. of the dressing  and keep adding it until it’s all gone.Bake at 400 F. (200 C.) for about 20 to 30 minutes. Your scallops will be ready when the dressing starts to become golden and crispy. 

Serve you scallops still hot with few lemon slices (some of your guests may like the idea of sprinkling few drops of lemon on top of their scallops) and don’t forget to warn about the temperature of the shells! They will be super hot!

LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

TIPS: – some people panfry the scallops in butter or oil before baking them because apparently it gives it extra taste. In my humble opinion, if the scallops are really fresh, there is no need to add extra fat on them, they will be super tasty just baked!

– don’t try to speed up the baking process by heating the oven at more than 400 F. The excessive heat will burn the oil and the scallops will be ruined.

– Sea scallops can be a very nice appetizer but when I prepare them (my kids won’t touch them) for my husband and I, twelve are enough to fill up our bellies!

– The scallop dressing is absolutely delicious so when you serve them, don’t forget to leave on the table a big bread loaf… you’ll need the bread to clean up the shells! YUM!

– The shells I bought are dishwasher proof, so I can wash and reuse them each time!

Tell me, have you ever eaten scallops in their shells? with or without coral ?

How did you like it the most?

I really hope you liked my recipe this week, and if you did, please  share it, like it, leave a comment to support my blog! And if you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to subscribe: it’s completely free and you will receive my weekly recipe directly at your email address!

MUCH LOVE

SILVIA

 

YOU CAN ALSO FIND ME HERE:

on FB: Italiangoodness – A taste of Italy on your table every day

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Oven baked, bacon wrapped, cod fish. Light, crunchy, and so good!

Many times you have heard me complaining about how much I miss seafood living in Midwest. When we lived in Italy we could easily have access to seafood market twice a week just down the stairs of our apartment, along the alleys of the our middle-age walled hometown (Cittadella, PD, Italy). Anyway, place you leave, new habits to develop! And this super easy, fast, light recipe fits perfect our crave for sea food, satisfying even my little ones, which love the light taste of cod, and adore the aftertaste of baked bacon.     One curiosities about Italy is that in the Region I come from (Veneto), cod fish is very popular, and some of the most popular recipe with cod fish are “baccala’ mantecato” and “baccala’ alla veneta“.

Going back to the recipe, this one could really be perfect for any kind of meal, even if you want to impress your guests, and the ingredients are so simple that (besides the cod), you probably already have them all at home! This time I chose a 4-5 servings dose (about two pounds) to feed my numerous family, but ingredients could be easily reduced or increased according to the amount of people you intend to feed ! Moreover, considering the delicate taste of the cod, you can pick whichever side dish to pair with it (a simply salad would be great), but if you have some “extra time” and you like baked potatoes, you can bake them while you bake the cod, only for a longer time. 

INGREDIENTS for 4-5 (adults) servings

2 pd. fresh cod fish loins

2-3 tbs. dried or fresh thyme

about 1 pd. slices of smoked bacon

plain bread crumbs

Panko bread crumbs

about a cup milk

optional: 1 pd. red potatoes peeled and cut in cubes

olive oil and sea salt to taste

Directions

In case you decided to make bake potatoes along  with the cod, peel and cut them in cubes, spread them with olive oil and panko bread. Arrange the potatoes in a baking sheet previously covered in parchment, keeping the cubes pretty far to each other to obtain a “crunchy” result.   Preheat the oven at 420 F. (200 C) – Convection. Be aware that the potatoes will need about 45-60 minutes to get ready, while the cod will need only 30 minutes. So, start baking the potatoes ahead of time, flipping them about every 20 minutes, and start baking the cod only 30 minutes before the potatoes will be done. Remember to salt the potatoes before to serve them.

Back to the cod: Mix the different kinds of breadcrumbs and the thyme to prepare the breading. Cut the cod fish loins in pieces of the quite same dimensions.

Drench the cod pieces in the milk one at a  time and bread them in the crumbs mix. Wrap the cod in bacon and arrange it in an oven sheet previously covered with parchment.

Bake the cod for about 15 minutes and then, flip the slides and bake for the same amount of time. Serve still warm with some fresh vegetable and (if you like) with a slice of lemon and/or if you had the time to made the potatoes, with them!

YUMMMMM!   LEARNT IT, MADE IT, LOVED IT!

Tip: – baked cod leftovers will be still good, only not as crisp as just baked.

– to make this recipe you can use even frozen cod, but remember to thaw it ahead of time, and that probably the frozen fish will release a lot of water while baking, so the result will be less crunchy than with the fresh one.

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do,
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Much thanks,

Silvia