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BRIAN IN THE KITCHEN  brought to you by Stittsworth Meats

December 7 2010

Baccala - Italian Christmas

2 1/2 pounds salt cod soaked for 48 hours
A large onion weighing about 2/3 pound
A small bunch parsley
2 ounces salted anchovies
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiana
Olive oil
Whole milk, ideally milked the night before
A little flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Butcher's twine

Slice the onion paper-thin and sauté it in a quarter cup of olive oil over a moderately intense flame; you want the onion to cook, softening nicely, but not brown overly much. While the onion is sautéing rinse the anchovies under running water, bone them, and mince them with the parsley. Add the mixture to the onion, reduce the heat, and continue simmering until the anchovies have dissolved and the sauce is creamy. Empty the pot into a wire mesh strainer, catching the drippings in a bowl and setting them aside.

Pick over the stockfish, removing the exterior bones, and then split it lengthwise and remove the interior bones, including the spine. Salt and pepper both halves, and distribute half the onion mixture over each, followed by the grated cheese. Reassemble the fish halves, and tie them together with the butcher's twine as you would if you were tying up a salami, leaving about an inch between the horizontal rings of string. Using a sharp knife, cut the tied up stockfish into rounds, cutting between the strings.

Put the reserved drippings into a pot large enough for the stockfish to lie flat in a single layer. Flour the rounds and set them upright in the pot. Add equal volumes of milk and olive oil to cover and give the pot a good shake; cover the pot and let it simmer for at least four hours, shaking it every now and again lest the fish stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.