Baccalà Mantecato alla Veneziana

Whipped Salt Cod in the Style of Venice

Baccalà mantecato is whipped salt cod, from the verb mantecare, which means to “whip” or “whisk.” This puree is usually served atop slices of grilled, fried, or baked polenta. It also can be paired with warm soft polenta for a very voluptuous contrast of hot and cold. In a most unusual pairing, Edda Servi Machlin spoons it atop a bed of sliced raw mushrooms.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds salt cod fillets
  • Water or milk, as needed
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, or as needed
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Fresh lemon juice to taste

Method

Soak the salt cod in water for 2 days, changing the liquid at least 3 times. Drain the salt cod and place in a saucepan. Add water or milk to cover and bring slowly to a gentle simmer. Simmer until the fish is tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the salt cod and when cool enough to handle, break up into 2-inch pieces, removing any errant bones or discolored or tough parts.

Place the salt cod in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Gradually beat in as much oil as needed for a smooth puree. Pulse in the garlic and parsley and season with salt, pepper, and a bit of lemon juice, if you like. Serve as directed in recipe introduction.