Ingredients

5 pounds Salt Cod Fish
2 ½ pounds potatoes, peeled & cut into 1/4's
2 large leeks, cleaned well, chopped into 1/2 inch size pieces, white part only
½ pound large mushrooms cut into ¼’s
½ head celery with leaves cleaned & chopped into ½ inch pieces
½ cup salted capers rinsed and drained
½ pound large pitted green olives
2 ½ pounds onions chopped finely
3 cans San Marzano Tomatoes, pureed & 1 ½ cans of water
Olive oil
Fresh ground pepper

Directions

1. Soak salt Cod in very large pan, changing water every hour, for 24 hours, drain all water, set fish aside.
2. Place prepared mushrooms in a large frying pan with water, cook on high heat, until water turns brown. Drain water, set mushrooms aside.
3. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan, add onions and leeks, sauté until transparent.
4. Add celery to pan with onions and leeks, continuing to cook for 2 minutes.
5. Add potatoes to pan and toss with celery, leeks and onions, coating potatoes with oil. Cook 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and water.
6. Add 1 ½ teaspoon ground pepper and bring sauce to a boil. Lower heat to medium and cover pot, cooking for 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the potatoes. They should be slightly hard when you test them by inserting a fork.
7. Add prepared capers, mushrooms and olives and continue cooking on medium /high heat. Bring sauce to 2nd boil and remove from heat immediately. Note: The sauce can be made to this point and kept in refrigerator until ready to serve. My Grandmother Felicia would always let her sauce marinate in the” Spezza Room” overnight at this point!

When ready to serve:

8. Using a ladle, cover the bottom of Dutch oven pan with sauce and place one layer of prepared Cod Fish over sauce. Continue layering sauce and Cod Fish, ending with sauce
9. Cover Dutch oven pan and place in a pre-heated 400 degree F. oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it begins to boil.
10. When the boiling point is reached, reduce heat to 375 degrees and continue to cook for 1 more hour. Note: Complete “oven” cook time should be 2 hours in total
11. Remove pan from oven and let Baccala rest on counter for 1 hour.

Serve with fresh Italian Bread and enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Felicia (Ciaramitaro) Mohan, 2011.

Many Italians, especially from the southern areas of Italy, have the tradition of celebrating Christmas Eve with what they call the Feast of the Seven Fishes. The tradition followed many Italian immigrants to America, where they often increased the number and variety of fishes. Some households are known to have up to thirteen varieties every Christmas Eve.

Many Italians see Christmas as a time of “open house,” and friends and family go around tasting the different fish dishes and other Christmas treats. The world that Felicia Ciaramitaro Mohan and Safatia “The Godmother” Romeo-Theken grew up in followed this custom to the extreme, and may of their best Christmas memories are made of those visits.

Many of those who still continue the tradition and celebrate the open house, such as Felicia and Sefatia, often feature a dish made with salted cod, or baccala. As you will see by watching the video, their ideas of the recipe, which are based on their own childhood experience and memories, can be quite different.

In this case, Felicia shows her Grandmother’s recipe, made with leeks, potatoes, mushrooms, celery, green olives, onions, capers and San Marzano tomatoes. Sefatia makes it clear that this was not her recipe, or the one she grew up with, but she makes it clear that it is very good nonetheless.

In fact, if you went to different Italian households who celebrate Christmas with the fishes feast you might find a baccala dish made differently in every one. No two recipes will be exactly the same, and that is one of the things that make going from house to house every Christmas that much more interesting.

Baccala Italian Style Codfish
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