serves: 6 servings
Baccalà (salt cod) is cooked in many ways in every region of Italy in the north, where I grew up, as well as in Basilicata, in the far south. Of course, the preparation styles vary immensely, and I like them all! This baccalà dish has the characteristic flavors of Basilicata, incorporating both hot peperoncino flakes and roasted peppers (jarred peppers are fine to use here). It is a good recipe to try if you've
not cooked baccalà before, easy to make and with appealing, familiar flavors.
2 pounds boneless baccala
1½ pounds roasted red peppers
1 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, sliced
½ teaspoon peperoncino, or to taste
½ cup white wine
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
To remove the salt from the salt cod, put the fish in a large, deep container that fits in your sink. Run fresh cold water into the container, filling it completely, so water is spilling over. Keep a slow, steady drip of fresh water to soak the baccalà for at least 12 hours, up to a couple of days. Occasionally dump out and refresh the water. To decide if baccalà has been soaked sufficiently, press a finger against it at a thick part, and touch it to the tongue. If it's palatably salty, it is ready to be cooked. Drain the baccalà, pat dry, and cook right away or store in the refrigerator, well wrapped, and cook within a day or so.
When you're ready to prepare the baccalà, drain the roasted red peppers and cut them into strips about 2 by 3 inches. Cut the baccalà into six serving-sized pieces. Spread flour on a plate, and dredge the pieces, lightly coating both sides, and shaking off the excess. Pour 6 tablespoons of the olive oil into the skillet, and set it over medium-high heat. Lay the codfish pieces in the pan in a single layer, and fry for about 5 minutes, until the underside is colored, then flip the pieces over. Scatter the sliced garlic and the peperoncino over the pan bottom, in between the fish pieces. Cook for several minutes, to brown the second side, then turn them all over again.
Nestle the roasted-pepper pieces in between the fish pieces, to start cooking on the pan bottom. Stir the wine, 1/2 cup water, and the salt together in a spouted measuring cup, and pour this evenly over the fish pieces; drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over them as well. Shake the pan to distribute the liquids evenly throughout, and bring them to a simmer.
Cook for about 8 minutes, or until the fish is done to your liking. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley, and serve immediately.