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June 10, 2013

A Pauper No More – Baccala Alla Livornese

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Darren & Malcolm @ 7:40 pm

A Pauper No More

Baccala Livornese Casa Verde 1


 Baccala 2



– 600 / 800g baccalà fillets, still salted and dried

– flour as needed

– 400g peeled tomatoes

– parsley

– spring of rosemary

– extra-virgin olive oil

– 2 cloves of garlic, peeled

– peperoncino (dried chili)


 Buy the baccalà three days before you want to eat this dish. As with all good things, preparation is just as important as the quality of the ingredients.

Try to get one of the thicker baccalà fillets. Cut it into 5–6 cm squares and mettere in ammollo, that is, cover the squares in lashings of cold water. This process is important to draw the salt out of the fish and plump it up before cooking. Otherwise it will be dry, leathery and too salty to eat. Refrigerate for half a day, then change the water. Do this six times and three days will have passed before you reach the day of cooking—and eating!

Drain off all the water and rinse the baccalà under cold running water one last time. Pat the pieces dry with a clean cloth and set aside.

In a heavy-based pan, heat up two fingers of extra-virgin olive oil (this is the classic Italian measure of oil depth: with your fingers horizontal to the pan, it is measured in finger widths).

Dust the squares of baccalà in flour seasoned with salt and pepper and fry in the olive oil until golden brown, turning once. Turn off the flame and, with a slotted spoon, remove the fish from the pan and drain on absorbent paper. Set aside.

In another heavy-based pan heat up a little more of the oil, add two peeled and crushed garlic cloves plus a sprig of rosemary. Cook until you can smell the fragrances of the garlic and rosemary being released. Before the garlic caramelizes, add a very small tumbler of white wine. Leave this to reduce and follow by adding the chopped tomatoes plus a cup of water. Bring to the boil, let simmer for 10 minutes on its own, then add the sweet golden pillows of friedbaccalàa, which have been patiently standing by, awaiting their sauce.

Let all simmer together for 10–15 minutes, taste for seasoning and serve. An optional extra is to add a few olives at this stage, and sprinkle with parsley before serving.

It is great to serve at just above room temperature.


Fresh, young and light with citrus notes and balanced oak, I find the local Grattamacco Bolgheri Vermentino 2011, a nice match to this dish.

Buon appetito!


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