Holiday Feature


Christmas Baccala
with Potatoes and Olives


I had an Aunt Mary who used to host Christmas Eve dinner at her house. She cooked baccala, or salt cod, four or five different ways—in tomato sauce, as a salad, in croquettes. I think this was one of the best preparations.

Note that the baccala needs to be soaked for an entire day in advance and the water changed several times.

Serves 4 as a main dish

  • 1 pound dried salt cod, cut into 4 x 4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 onions, sliced
  • 3 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 -inch dice
  • 4 cups chicken or fish stock
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 cup Sicilian green olives, pitted and sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste
Soak the cod in cold water for 24 hours. Change the water 5 times to remove the salt. Drain and pat the cod pieces dry with a towel.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the cod to the pan (do not overcrowd) and brown on one side. Carefully flip with a spatula and brown the other side. Once browned, remove the cod from the pan. Drain on paper towels and set aside in a warm spot.

Brown the onions in the same pan that the cod was cooked in. Once the onions are nicely browned, add the potatoes and cook until the potatoes are also browned. (If the pan is too dry, add a few drops of chicken stock.)

Once the potatoes have browned, add the rest of the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Lower the heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes, then mix in the thyme, parsley, and olives.

Lay the browned cod on top of the potato mixture, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the cod over carefully and cook for 10 minutes more. Remove carefully to a warm platter using a spatula and serve immediately.

Little Italy Cookbook
by David Ruggerio
Photographs by Melanie Acevedo
Workman Publishing, $22.95
232 pages, October, 1997
ISBN 1-885183-54-2
Reprinted by permission


Buon Natale: Christmas Eve Italian Style

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Copyright © 1997, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.


This page created 1997 and modified November 2006.

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