On our recent trip to Venice, for lunch, we met up with a FaceBook friend who lives just outside of Venice, Monica Cesarato. Monica does a cicchetti (Venetian Style tapas) tour so we knew that she could lead us to some great Venetian bacari, or wine bars, where we could enjoy some cicchetti with a glass of the local white wine. Monica ended up taking us to three of her favorite bacari where we shared some delicious Venetian seafood specialties, and at the last bacari she had us order the Baccalà Mantecato, which is creamed dried cod that was served on slices of crusty bread. It was truly wonderful, and I think I have finally been converted to appreciating baccalà myself! Who knew dried sea cod could ever taste THAT good?
I have made this dish once in the past after another trip to Venice, but the recipe I used then included boiled potatoes and cream and I found it very bland. Monica’s recipe is much simpler, and although traditionally the baccala is beaten with olive oil and a wooden spoon, I took Monica’s advice and used a hand immersion blender which worked out great. Monica says it can take up to an hour to obtain the right texture beating the cod and olive oil with the wooden spoon, so I decided for me the blender was the way to go. This dish is often served on polenta, but we served ours at home on slices of grilled bread. I must admit that in all honesty I have not been a big fan of baccalà in the past as I usually find the taste a bit strong for my liking so I soaked my dried cod for three days instead of two. I also found that if you use the fatter, whiter meat of the cod for this dish rather than the thinner end pieces the flavor will be a bit milder which I really liked. For me, the trick to getting a really light, whipped texture was to add the oil in slowly and beating well as you do so, just as you would in making mayonnaise. Dried salted cod can be found at many seafood or European specialty stores.
Deborah Mele 2011
Yield: Serves 6 - 8
Prep Time: 3 days
Cook Time: 30 mins
A Venetian specialty of whipped salted cod served on slices of bread or polenta.
1/2 Pound of Dried Cod
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Bay Leaf
Salt & Pepper
Extra Vigin Olive Oil
Cracked Black Pepper
Cut the cod into pieces and place them into a pan full of water.
Leave it in water for 2 to 3 days, changing the water twice daily.
After soaking, change the water again and place the cod and water, along with a bay leaf and cook for 30 minutes on low heat, removing any foam that comes to the surface.
After 30 minutes, remove the cod from the pan and place in a container with high sides.
Remove the skin and the bones from the cod and add 2 gloves of garlic.
Take a wooden spoon (or immersion hand blender) and start to mix vigorously, slowly adding the olive oil.
The quantity of the oil will depend on the cod itself.
Continue mixing until the cod turns light and has a whipped, mousse-like texture.
Taste and add salt if required.
Serve on fresh cut bread slices or grilled slices of polenta.
Sprinkle top with some cracked black pepper.
Monica Cesarato Cook In Venice Cooking Classes