Baccalà alla napoletana (Neapolitan-Style Braised Codfish)

Baccalà alla napoletana

Baccalà, or salted codfish, is bound to make an apparence on the Christmas Eve table of many Italians. And for those who observe Lent, it is a standby for meatless Friday meals. Baccalà marries especially well with tomatoes, and who does tomatoes better than the people of Campania, home to Italy’s best tomatoes? Baccala alla napoletana, Naples-style codfish, is a simple dish of bold flavors reminiscent of pasta alla puttanesca.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6

For the baccalà:

  • 1 kilos (2 lbs) baccalà (dried salt cod)
  • Flour
  • Olive oil

For the sauce:

  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • A few sprigs of fresh parsley, stems removed and finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 500g (1 lb) fresh tomatoes, peeled and seed, or canned
  • A  handful each of capers and olives, preferably of the Gaeta or Niçoise variety

To finish the dish:

  • A few sprigs of fresh parsley, stems removed and finely chopped

Directions

You begin, as usual, by soaking the salt cod for up to 24 hours in several changes of water. Drain the cod, pat it dry, and cut it into serving pieces.

Now make your sauce, in a skillet or flame-proof baking pan, by very lightly sautéing a soffritto of chopped garlic and parsley in olive oil until it just begins to give off it fragrance. Immediately add roughly chopped very ripe tomatoes (or, the in winter, canned tomatoes) and simmer gently. When the tomatoes start to melt into a sauce, toss in a handful each of capers—preferably the salt-packed kind, rinsed and dried—and olives—preferably the small black Gaeta or Niçoise variety.

While the sauce is simmering, lightly flour and fry your baccalà pieces in olive oil until they are lightly browned. As they brown, transfer them to the pan or skillet with the sauce. When all the baccalà has been added to the sauce, take a spoon and nap a bit of the simmering sauce over the fish pieces.

Now you have a choice: you can continue simmering the dish over the stove, or you can place the dish in a hot oven (200°C, 400°F) for 10-15 minutes, until the sauce has reduced to a nice consistency. I like the oven method, as serving the baccalà direct from its baking dish makes for an attractive presentation at table.

Remove the dish from the oven, sprinkle with a bit more chopped parsley for color, and serve with some nice, crusty bread.

Baccalà alla napoletana 2

Notes

For some pointers on buying and soaking baccalà, check out this post. For tips on selecting the best canned tomatoes, see this post. Even after soaking, you may find that the texture of salted codfish is a bit firmer than you like your fish to be. If you prefer a softer texture, poach the codfish pieces for five minutes or so, drain and let them cool off before flouring and frying them.

Baccalà alla napoletana (Neapolitan-Style Braised Codfish)

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 8 hours

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: Serves 4-6

Baccalà alla napoletana (Neapolitan-Style Braised Codfish)

Ingredients

    For the baccalà:
  • 1 kilos (2 lbs) baccalà (dried salt cod)
  • Flour
  • Olive oil
  • For the sauce:
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • A few sprigs of fresh parsley, stems removed and finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 500g (1 lb) fresh tomatoes, peeled and seed, or canned
  • A handful each of capers and olives, preferably of the Gaeta or Niçoise variety
  • To finish the dish:
  • A few sprigs of fresh parsley, stems removed and finely chopped

Directions

  1. You begin, as usual, by soaking the salt cod for up to 24 hours in several changes of water. Drain the cod, pat it dry, and cut it into serving pieces.
  2. Now make your sauce, in a skillet or flame-proof baking pan, by very lightly sautéing a soffritto of chopped garlic and parsley in olive oil until it just begins to give off it fragrance. Immediately add roughly chopped very ripe tomatoes (or, the in winter, canned tomatoes) and simmer gently. When the tomatoes start to melt into a sauce, toss in a handful each of capers—preferably the salt-packed kind, rinsed and dried—and olives—preferably the small black Gaeta or Niçoise variety.
  3. While the sauce is simmering, lightly flour and fry your baccalà pieces in olive oil until they are lightly browned. As they brown, transfer them to the pan or skillet with the sauce. When all the baccalà has been added to the sauce, take a spoon and nap a bit of the simmering sauce over the fish pieces.
  4. Now you have a choice: you can continue simmering the dish over the stove, or you can place the dish in a hot oven (200°C, 400°F) for 10-15 minutes, until the sauce has reduced to a nice consistency. I like the oven method, as serving the baccalà direct from its baking dish makes for an attractive presentation at table.
  5. Remove the dish from the oven, sprinkle with a bit more chopped parsley for color, and serve with some nice, crusty bread.
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24 Responses to “Baccalà alla napoletana (Neapolitan-Style Braised Codfish)”

  1. 10 March 2014 at 00:01 #

    I love this recipe. It is spot on to what my mom made. I love your flipboard Magazine. I have been fooling around with ibook author and just wondering what program you used to create it. Also enjoyed the interview.

    • 10 March 2014 at 12:20 #

      No program needed. Just go to the Flipboard website and follow the guides. It’s a snap!

  2. 25 October 2012 at 15:14 #

    oh this reminds me so much of my mum. She made it so good and I have never been able to replicate her recipe. I will surely try this one when I have time.

    • 25 October 2012 at 15:29 #

      I’m not sure I could ever compete with your mamma, but the recipe is certainly worth a try… ;=)

    • 28 October 2012 at 18:56 #

      Thanks so much, Letizia. It’s a wonderful, homey dish. If you try this recipe, do let me know how it comes out.

      By the way, I have to give you special thanks: You were the very first person to leave on comment on the new website!

  3. 23 October 2012 at 22:39 #

    We love baccala’ in various ways: stewed with potatoes, roasted and fried.

  4. 22 December 2011 at 20:11 #

    Thanks, Anonymous! I'm sure this goes very well with potatoes or polenta. Parsnips… I'll have to try it some time!

  5. Anonymous
    15 December 2011 at 23:54 #

    I have made thiss for many years. The hard part was finding the dried salted cod fish at times. Its great with potatoes but my family always served it with roasted parsnips or polenta.

  6. Anonymous
    22 July 2011 at 00:54 #

    This looks almost exactly as I remember it, except I always had it with potatoes added. I'm going to try it but I'm going to add the potatoes.

  7. 13 August 2010 at 16:34 #

    now thats home cooking!!! what a perfect meal, its been so long since I have had Baccala!

  8. 11 August 2010 at 18:25 #

    Oh my, your recipe has really made me hungry. IT looks and sounds just perfectly mouthwatering.

  9. bob96
    10 August 2010 at 23:02 #

    Che bello. I wish I were not the only one in my household to love baccala, but so be it Baccalà e stocco al forno was our Calabrese Christmas special, roughly the same dish as yours, except baked, along with wedges of potato. My dad and i loved to use the thick, oily pan sauce on bucatini. His home town in Calabria, Cittanova, is famous for its Sagra dello stocco.

  10. 10 August 2010 at 16:09 #

    Gorgeous I everyway. I have yet to cook with salted cod myself but love the flavors and your recipe will be the first I try.

    Thanks Frank :)

    Ciao, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  11. 10 August 2010 at 12:14 #

    I have salt cod and have never cooked with the preserved fish before. Your Italian dish is inspiring and one I would like to jump in to enjoy a new kitchen experience.

  12. 10 August 2010 at 07:17 #

    beautiful dish, know the flavors meld wonderfully together…

  13. 9 August 2010 at 23:52 #

    What a beautiful post and great idea for the summer. Tomatoes are indeed stunning now- even in Colorado- and this dish seems like a great use for them. I don't think I have had the Italian version of this but I do remember a similar creation in Spain- it was fabulous!

  14. 9 August 2010 at 16:22 #

    I would love to eat everything you make at home. My husband loves fish but he doesn't like it cooked in sauce. I, on the other hand, would gobble this up. Thanks for sharing.

  15. 9 August 2010 at 12:58 #

    this looks so beautiful, I am thrilled to try this out to surprise my husband with!

    have a glorious day and come by and visit any time at http://mangia-bella.blogspot.com

  16. 9 August 2010 at 12:18 #

    lovely picture looks delicious

  17. 9 August 2010 at 08:43 #

    I lived south of Naples for a bit during my summers between college – this brings back such delicious memories! Thanks for the inspiration to cook something Mediterranean!

  18. 9 August 2010 at 04:28 #

    very,very good done!

  19. 9 August 2010 at 01:11 #

    Frank, I will need to try this recipe. It looks wonderful!

  20. 8 August 2010 at 20:42 #

    Oh, it looks and sounds so delicious! And I love your pan!

  21. 8 August 2010 at 19:46 #

    this brings back such memories. Bacala fights. My dad liked it, mom didn't. lovely looking Frank.

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