Baccalà in umido con Patate (Stewed Salted Cod with Potatoes). Italian dishes are about tradition, memories and a whole lot of passion.
This dish comes from my childhood and was reunited with it in our beautiful home in Rome. Wonderfully plump, meaty, succulent salted cod meets a rich tomato broth and soft billowy potatoes.
Song of the day: "Can You Feel It" by Micheal Jackson.
Baccalà in umido con Patate (Stewed Salted Cod with Potatoes). Traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve, or New Year's Eve. However, it is so loved that you will see it year-round on many tables in Italy, especially on Fridays for Fish Friday. Its flavor so distinct, it is hard to believe that a salted piece of fish can turn into something so flaky and mouthwatering good!
[This post is sponsored by The Italian Centre Shop. We’ve been compensated but -as always- all opinions are our own.]
Hard to Believe!
If someone told me that I would be doing a baccalà recipe and writing about it, I would have said no way, absolutely not. That dry, white, powdery scary fish. No way!
You see, I was not a great fan of salted cod. I even had a food fight with my brother one day when my mom served us the baccalà soup. With plastic spoons in hand......... well it was a mess and we were in deep ______! My Mom was not pleased.
With a few ear pulls and a spoon across the back end, we cleaned up the mess. My mom was right, I didn't understand good food. Not until one day.........
Years have passed.......
Let's jump a few years, maybe 30 years or so ahead. I am in Italy with Nicoletta. My father in law Franco gave us some salted cod he had bought and soaked for us.
We took it home and made a wonderful sauce with some tomatoes and added onions and potatoes also given to us by Franco. Always a great place to shop at my mother and father in-law's. Can't beat the price, free is hard to beat, lol. They are wonderful people and always make me feel deserving and special.
This dish, in particular, has very special meaning for Nicoletta. It was from her Nonna Armanda. This was how she would make it and we carry the tradition and passion on and on.......
Back to the Baccala.........
So, as I was saying, we made this wonderful sauce, added potatoes, and the cod. Let it stew for a bit. The aroma was amazing. This dish was most noteworthy, and my past with baccalà was wiped clear.
One day when at The Italian Centre Shop I saw that white salted dry fish and all I could think about was that day in Rome and how I cleaned my plate with that rustic bread. I knew this recipe for Baccalà in umido con Patate (Stewed Salted Cod with Potatoes) was the one to share!
Patience is a virtue..........
This recipe is relatively easy but demands some time and attention. Because the cod is salt cured it needs time to be rehydrated and also to get all that salt out of the flesh. This takes 3-4 days changing the water each day and washing the cod consequently making the cod plump and revitalized, ready to be used.
The tomato sauce is basic. Garlic, chopped onion, and some good quality San Marzano tomatoes, and a bit of fresh basil.
The final stages.........
As for the potatoes, they will go in prior to the cod, as they take a bit more time to cook. The last stage of this recipe is the cod which goes into the rich sauce. After some time it is ready to serve with some good crusty bread.
Time to eat.......
I love the aroma, rich sweet tomato sauce. Those potatoes look so inviting I have to give one a try! Mmmmmmmmmmm so soft and luxurious.
Let's try the fish. I love when you go in and the layers just separate and you know it is going to melt in your mouth because that is exactly what it did. That rich tomato sauce is perfect being absorbed in the bread that I am dipping into the sauce.
Boy, was I wrong that day in the basement kitchen at home. Funny as a kid you are so quick to decide against something thinking you know everything and as you mature you figure out that you really know nothing compared to a universe of creativity and manifestation.
Join in my memories, not the childhood one, but the one that I remember being close to the woman I love (Nicoletta) sharing the experience of cooking and enjoying the fruits of our labor in a culture rich traditional land.
Happy New Year!
Cheers, and Enjoy!
Song of the day: "Can You Feel It" by Micheal Jackson.
- 1 kg of thick salted cod
- 1 large can of good quality tomatoes
- 2 medium potatoes cut into bite-size chunks
- 4 fresh basil leaves
- 1 large white onion chopped fine
- 1 clove garlic pressed
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Take salted cod and cut into nice good chunks about 1 ½ inch x 2 inches.
- Rinse with cold water thoroughly for about 5 minutes taking any excess salt off the cod.
- Place cod chunks in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Place in the fridge.
- Let cod soak for 3-4 days changing the water every day and rinsing the cod before refreshing the water.
- In a deep saute' pan drizzle in olive oil and bring to a medium to high heat.
- Toss in garlic and onions and saute for about 10 minutes.
- Take tomatoes and place in pan squishing and breaking apart the tomatoes adding in the thick tomato juice.
- Turn heat to a low to medium and break in fresh basil leaves. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Place potato chunks into the sauce and simmer for about 5-10 minutes.
- Drain cod and pat dry with paper towel. Place in sauce with potatoes.
- Partially cover the pan and cook for 20 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
- Taste for seasoning and add salt and black pepper if needed.
- Ready to serve.
Do not season until the end. The cod is salty and there may not be a need to season with salt.
Be careful not to overcook the cod, it does become chewy if cooked too much.
Serve with some fresh rustic bread.
If the sauce looks too thick, add some water. It all depends on the quality of tomatoes you buy. We used Mutti brand.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Category: Main, Fish
- Cuisine: Italian
When I am not cooking, I enjoy playing musical instruments, singing, writing. I have learned over the years to live in gratitude and enjoy the moment.