Nonna Mary has been making Baccalà e Patate (Salted Cod and Potatoes) for as long as she can remember. She was taught by her mother, and also her mother-in-law. "That was a big dish among the Calabrese people," she says. "That was taught to us by everyone. Wherever you turn, every corner, they all know how to make Baccalà. And the Portuguese people, too. For them, that's the biggest dish."
Nonna Mary was kind enough to invite us into her kitchen, to show our newsletter subscribers how she makes Baccalà e Patate, but she wants to make something clear: you can change anything you want in this recipe. "If the other day you did it one way, and now you're gonna do it another—that's fine! You can do anything you want in your kitchen!"
- 2 lbs of boneless baccalà (salted cod)
- 4 potatoes
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 4 large tomatoes, chopped (or your own jarred tomatoes, if you have them)
- 1 white onion, chopped
- Calabrese olives (or black olives, if you prefer)
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Hot peppers (if you enjoy picanti)
Nonna Mary buys her baccalà from a shop where it is already soaked (to remove some of the salt) before it is frozen. She then defrosts this baccalà and soaks it again, in a bowl of cold water placed in the fridge over night. You can use bone-in baccalà as well, but boneless is Nonna Mary's preference—especially when kids are eating.
- Cut the baccalà into small pieces, and pat it dry with a paper towel.
- In a pot, sauté the baccalà in garlic, chopped onions, and olive oil for about 5 minutes.
- Remove the baccalà from the pot, and set it aside on a plate. Add the chopped tomatoes (and hot peppers, if you like) into the pot, and cook them with the garlic, onions and olive oil.
- Bring the sauce to a boil, then add the baccalà and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat and let simmer. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and chop them in to large pieces. In a separate pot, boil the potatoes in water until they are half cooked. Then, add the potatoes to the pot containing the tomato sauce.
- Let simmer for about 30 minutes. Add olives, and let simmer for 5 more minutes.
- Plate the meal, and add parsley.
That's it! Best of luck in preparing this meal yourself. If you're wondering what would pair well with this recipe, Nona Mary has some suggestions: "Tomato salad would go well—a nice rich tomato salad with hot peppers in there. And you could make, if you want, a little bit of pasta. Spaghettini could go with it—always thin pasta. Spaghettini, linguini, or even capellini. You can also make a little bit of chicken, if you're having company over. If it's your own family, a tomato salad or a green salad is good enough. If you have company, then a bit of breaded chicken breast. Wine also goes well, preferably white. Enjoy!"