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Traditionally, Italians dine on seven different fish and seafood dishes (symbolizing the seven sacraments) on Christmas Eve. (By the way, you don't have to wait for Christmas to make this wonderful dish.) This recipe is typical of the Calabrian region of Italy. Have plenty of crusty Italian bread available to scoop up the sauce. And, remember to buy your dried, salted cod (baccala) three days before cooking, so you can prepare it. Buono Natale!!
- 1 lb dried cod, prepared as follows in directions (baccala)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced small
- 2 medium onions, peeled and diced
- 1 (16 ounce) canitalian peeled plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped (with the juices)
- 1⁄2 cup chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
- 1⁄2 cup seedless raisin, plumped in warm water and drained
- 1⁄4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry skillet on the stove (pignoli)
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
- 1⁄4 cup green olives in brine, pitted and sliced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
- PREPARE THE BACCALA: Three days before cooking, place the pieces of dried cod (baccala) in a large pan, cover with cold water, and refrigerate. (Do yourself a favor and cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap AND aluminum foil, or your refrigerator will be filled with a very strong fishy smell!) Soak for 3 days to remove the salt. Turn the pieces of fish occasionally and change the water every 6 to 8 hours. By the third day, the cod will be plump, soft, fleshy, and well hydrated. Rinse under cold water and pat dry. The baccala is now ready for the recipe. (This is NOT part of the preparation time listed in the recipe).
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Remove any skin and bones from the fish, dry with paper towels, and cut into 6 pieces.
- Grease a 9x12-inch-deep oven-proof dish with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Layer with half the potatoes, half the onions, half the cod, and half the tomatoes. Sprinkle with half the parsley.
- Add the raisins, toasted pignoli, capers, olives, and the rest of the potatoes, onions and cod. Pour in the rest of the tomatoes with the juices. Season with the salt, pepper, and the remaining parsley. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the top and bake, uncovered, for 45 to 50 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Serve in soup bowls.
- Remember, on Christmas Eve, this is only one of, at least, seven fish or seafood dishes that are to follow in the same meal. This recipe serves 6, as a part of a larger meal. If you are making only this recipe, you will probably want to double or triple it.
- Enjoy & Buono Natale (Merry Christmas!).