And well it might -- well-cooked baccalà is a delight: Firm, slightly chewy, and not at all fishy in flavor. Italians import baccalà, and though most now comes from Norway, some hold that its roots lie with the Portuguese. In any case, the traditional technique for producing high quality baccalà is to take cod from three to six feet long, spit them, salt them for about ten days, and partially dry them. There are a number of different grades of baccalà; before overfishing took its toll, the best came from fish caught off Labrador.
Since it is salted, all baccalà requires soaking before it can be used. Italian delicatessens sell pre-soaked baccalà on Fridays, but I prefer to buy it and soak it myself -- it's cheaper, and I can select the piece I want and tailor the soaking to fit it. Salted baccalà comes 1/2 to 1-inch thick, in 3 to 6-inch wide slats that are 12 to 18 inches long (7-15 by 30-45 cm), and are white on the flesh side. The flesh should be pliable, compact, and not feel woody; you should try to select a piece of uniform thickness so it will soak evenly. To prepare it, rinse the salt off it and soak it in cold water for 12 or more hours, depending upon its thickness (refrigerate it in hot weather), changing the water 2-3 times daily. Once it has soaked skin it, pick out the bones, and it's ready for use.
- Baccalà Vicentina Style, or Baccalà a la Visentina
This is actually stockfish, or dried cod -- what the rest of Italy calls stoccafisso the Vicentini call baccalà -- simmered in milk until it becomes libidinously creamy.
- Baccalà Bollito
Boiled baccalà is very simple, but very tasty.
- Mantecato alla Veneziana
A sensuous stockfish (or baccalà) paté that is a fine antipasto or dip, and also good in romantic situations.
- Baccalà alla fiorentina
Baccalà cooked simply, with tomatoes and wine.
- Baccalà in Salsa Bianca
Baccalà works very well with a white sauce.
- Baccalà alla Senape
One rarely encounters mustard in Italy. But it works well here.
- Baccalà con le Erbe
A tasty dish with lots of greens.
- Baccalà in Inzimino
Artusi's variation of the above, with baccalà, and a suggestion for grilling baccalà.
- Baccalà Fritto
Fried baccalà is simplicity in itself.
- Baccalà Alla Griglia Estiva
A simple summer grilled baccalà with tomatoes.
- Baccalà Indorato
Fried baccalà with an egg or flour batter.
- Baccalà coi Peperoni
Fried baccalà with a bell pepper sauce.
- Baccalà alla Vicentina & alla Cappuccina
Two classic preparations of the Veneto region: Simmered in milk (with garlic and other delights), and with a green sauce.
- Baccalà Mollicato
A zesty recipe for baked baccalà and bell peppers.
- Baccalà in Graticola con Peperoni
Grilled (or broiled) baccalà with roasted peppers on the side.
- Baccalà in Salsa Piccante
Salt cod in a zesty bell pepper, caper and olive sauce that will also work well with other mildly flavored fish.
- Baccalà All'Usanza dei Pescatori
Fried baccalà with a zesty garlic-and-rosemary sauce.
- Insalata di Baccalà e Patate, or Baccalà and Potato Salad
A baccalà and potato salad from the Veneto that will be nice when it's warm out -- in the past it would have been a summery dish, because that's when string beans are in season, but now, thanks to freezer bins, we can enjoy it year round.
- Baccalà alla Trasteverina, or Fried Baccalà on a Bed of Onions
Baccalà alla Trasteverina is a Roman recipe for fried baccalà served on a bed of onions. Quite tasty, and easy too. In short, perfect for winter, and a good recipe for Lent, though it will be nice any time.
- Grandpa's Salt Cod
Zesty tomatoey baccalà baked with potatoes and olives: A nice option for Christmas Eve too. (In my review of the Buca di Beppo cookbook).
- Patate e Baccalà
baccalà with a tomatoey sauce, on a bed of potatoes.
- Peperoni Ripieni di Riso e Baccalà
The combination of bell peppers and fish is quite successful, and these will be perfect when it's hot.
- Sformato di Baccalà alla Certosina
An elegant ring of mashed potatoes filled with baccalà and mushrooms.
- Testaroli con Baccalà e Cipolle
Here testaroli serve as a bed for a tasty fish and onion dish.