Recipe – Baccala (Cod Fish Stew)

The following recipe is from the Italian (paternal) side of my family.  The principal ingredient is salt cod or baccala.  This dish was served on Good Friday every year before Easter.  Though my paternal family, who are mainly Catholics, do not abstain from meat as part of the tradition of Lent any longer, their ancestors did.  Fish, however, was not counted among the other meats, and was allowed during Lent.  This recipe would have been one of the last served before the breaking of the fast on Easter Sunday.  According to my informant, the salting and aging of the fish improves the flavor.  This celebratory dinner likely helped to mitigate whatever sense of deprivation anyone (at least fish lovers) felt during the meatless fast.  My family also ate the same dish after the midnight Mass at Christmas (!!!).

Baccala (Cod Fish Stew)

1/4 c. vegetable oil in a Dutch oven

sliced onions:    4 large sliced
potatoes:     6 large peeled & cut in chunks
tomatoes:    2 large cans
1 piece of salted codfish which has been soaking 48 hrs. to get the salt out, changing the water frequently

Boil until potatoes are almost done.  Add the rest of the cod fish.

My informant added: “I buy around 1 lb. [of salt cod] at the Italian store.  This makes a great stew, but only I like it of my siblings!!”