Cooking Like a Local: Pugliese Style – Baccalà
Baccalà, what on earth is that, I hear you ask? Dried, salted cod! Doesn’t sound that appettising, and certainly doesn’t look that appealing either. And as a person who doesn’t eat fish (I’m allergic, and don’t really like it anyway!), I wasn’t that excited to learn that ‘Lo Chef’, AKA Angela, told me this is a popular dish in Puglia and that I should learn how to cook it! OK! So here goes!
Baccalà is available on the fishmongers stall and needs to be soaked in water for 3 days, changing the water frequently. Failure to do this vital proceedure, will render your meal inedible (overly salty).
Angela told me, that there are many ways to cook Baccalà but one of her favourites is ‘al forno’, in the oven. And what I love about this recipe, is it’s use of simple ingredients to make a really tasty dish (if you like fish that is!). We simply sliced potatoes, quartered cherry tomatoes, chopped an onion, a handful of parsley, added all the ingredents to a large baking tray and mixed with plenty of oil, and surprisingly, lots of salt! But we’ve been soaking the Baccalà for 3 days to remove the salt!?! Not one to question ‘Lo Chef’ I added the salt. “Di più sale“, she said. What more salt! I thought. OK. And, if you like a bit of spice in your life, you could we add some fresh or dried chillies. Then we smoothed out the potato mixture and made a bed for the baccalà, which had been cut into 3 inch chunks. This was placed skin side up and partially buried under the potato mixture. A little water was added to help cook the potatoes and to stop the dish from drying out. It was then sprinkled with Angela’s favourite cheese, toscanello and breadcrumbs before beein baked in a medium oven until the vegetables were cooked (approximately 45 minutes).
Give it a go and let me know what you think!