Stoccafisso is dried cod, and was once a mainstay of the inland Italian diet: it keeps very well, and was therefore one of the best options for Fridays and other days the Church forbade the consumption of meat, for example Lent. As an added bonus, it was inexpensive. It isn't any more, alas, and also takes a fair amount of effort to prepare: one must pound it to break up the fibers, and then soak it for several days, changing the water daily. During this time it will double in volume and weight, at which point it's ready. It's often served cool, and this Stoccafisso all'Acquese, from Piemonte, will be a nice antipasto.
1 pound (500 g) stoccafisso, previously beaten and soaked
4 salted anchovy fillets, rinsed
1 pound small boiling potatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
A small bunch parsley, minced
1/4 cup pine nuts
A handful of pitted black olives (Ligurian taggiasche if possible)
A half cup of Gavi or similar crisp dry white wine
A half cup of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil the potatoes until a skewer penetrates; don't boil them until they become really soft. When they are cool enough to touch, peel them, cut them into rounds, and arrange them on a serving dish. Keep them warm.
Cut the stoccafisso into largeish pieces and boil them for 5 minutes in unsalted water. Let the fish cool in the pot, and then skin it and discard the bones.
Heat the olive oil in a fairly large pot, sauté the garlic for a minute or two, and then add the rinsed fillets. Stir them about to break them up and dissolve them, and then add the stoccafisso, olives, and pine nuts. Sprinkle the wine over all, season to taste, and cook until the wine has evaporated.
Spoon the fish over the potatoes, dust it with parsley, and serve it with more Gavi.
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