Recipe: Baccalà alla livornese

A delicious inland Tuscan dish… yes, inland because, in Tuscany, “baccalà” (salt cod) has always regarded as an inland ingredient, just like the herrings and anchovies sold in the most remote grocery stores, once considered peasant food but now hugely popular.

 

My childhood memories take me back to the grocery store in my town. On Wednesdays, the baccalà would be soaked in a marble tank just outside the door ahead of the popular demand on Fridays.

 

In Tuscany, it’s baccalà (cod preserved in salt) and never, or hardly ever, stockfish (air-dried cod). The long-standing recipe is Livorno style, a geographic label that applies to anything cooked in a tomato reduction with plenty of garlic and parsley.

 

Here’s my take on the recipe, which is a blend of centuries-old techniques and healthier solutions.

 

Serves 4:

600 g well-soaked baccalà, separated into 12 portions
flour “tipo 1”
peeled tomatoes

garlic

parsley

extra-virgin olive oil
hard yellow potatoes

 

Dry the baccalà well and dip it in flour, shaking off the excess. Fry in a pan with some really good olive oil until golden brown all over. Drain on absorbent paper. Fry the potatoes in the oil until they are almost cooked. Drain.

 

Saute the finely chopped garlic and parsley over low heat. Add the tomatoes, having squeezed them by hand and not blending them. Cook for at least 30 minutes until the sauce is fairly reduced. Add the baccalà and potatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes. Serve very hot with a couple of slices of unsalted bread.

 

It’s also delicious served cold.