Baccala Mantecato

1 pound salt cod, soaked for at least two days and cut into large pieces

2 garlic cloves

1 medium potato, cut into chunks

3 cups milk

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup light cream

1/2 cup Italian parsley, minced

freshly ground black pepper

additional liquid from the poaching liquid, if needed

optional: 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

  • Place the milk into a large pot and add the potatoes and garlic pieces. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until the potatoes are almost cooked, but need a little more time.
  • Add the codfish pieces and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness of the cod.
  • Drain the potatoes, codfish and garlic, reserving the milk.
  • Place the potatoes, fish, garlic and black pepper into a food processor and add the olive oil and cream, keeping the machine running until you have a thick "paste." If you need to add more liquid, use the poaching liquid.
  • Put in the parsley and blend again. If the mixture is too thick, add more of the poaching liquid.
  • Add the cheese if desired.
Note: When you buy salt cod, it's VERY salty and stiff as a board. Place it into a big bowl or pot that will fit into the refrigerator. Start by running cold water over the fish, in a bowl in the sink - for about 10 minutes. Then place the fish and the bowl filled with water in the refrigerator. At least twice a day, dump out the old water and replace it with fresh, clean water. The fish should reconstitute in less than a day, but it will still be salty. Sometimes I rinse the fish too much and I lose that familiar "salt cod" taste. Each year is different and each year the recipe turns out different.

This recipe will certainly keep overnight, but it's best eaten when it's at room temperature or slightly warm. If you don't want to make the grilled polenta (which is really messy to make), serve with crackers or bread.