Baccala’-Salted Cod with Endive 

(“Baccala’ con Indivia”) 

The Baccala’ with endive is a specialty cooked in southern Italy.

In Apulia, the baccala’ con endivia is served in the traditional Christmas dinner.

Baccala’ is salted and dried cod fish; endive is a bitter curly green vegetable of the chicory family.

“Baccala’ con Indivia” is the fish dressed with boneless salted anchovies, capers, black olives, olive oil, bread crumbed and wrapped into endive leaves.

There are many variations in the preparation and in fact in the Neapolitan region is prepared like a crust less pie, using blanched endive or escarole leaves as the base and filled with the stuffing; in other variation single leaves of endive is wrapped around the stuffing, the baccala’ is replaced by rice

and usually served as appetizer.

 

Although as a young man, I disliked this dish, when I tasted it in my “golden age”, I fund that the contrasting tastes of the bitter endive and the salty baccala’ blend into a refreshing and pleasant sensation to the palate and create a delicious, magnificent and different dish.

Prepared in the traditional way, it results into a moist and flavorful entrée that you and your table companions will enjoy.

The only way to prepare this dish is to blanch the baccala’ and coarsely chop it; mix it in with the various ingredients than fold the baccala’ mixture into the endive leaves and bake covered with olive oil and water.  

If curly endive is not available, substitute it with chicory or escarole.

Serves 6

 

Ingredients

 

  • 2 lb. of boneless baccala’, pre-soaked for 24 hours  
  • 6 small and tender heads of endive  
  • 1 cup of fresh diced bread, crust removed (soft part only)  
  • 2 salted anchovies, filleted and chopped   
  • 1 tablespoon of capers in brine  
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic   
  • ½ cup chopped pitted black olives  
  • Salt and peppers   
  • 12 tablespoons olive oil  

 

PREPARATION   

 

The Baccala’

Fill a large pot 2/3 of the way with water and bring to a boil.

Briefly plunge the baccala’ into the boiling water, drain it thoroughly and allow it to cool. 

.

 

The Filling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place bread on a ungreased baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 7 to 10 minutes, to lightly dry it. Remove from oven and let cool.

In a bowl, crumble the bread with your hands and set on the side.

Chop coarsely the salted cod and combine in a large bowl with salted anchovies, capers, black olives, the bread and 4 tablespoons of olive oil;

mix it well.

 

The Endive

Trim ends, but leave base attached and cut in half the long way; remove any discolored or damaged leaves. Dunk the endive in a basin filled with cold water and swish it around; repeat and rinse the endive 2 or 3 times; this is a very important step, so make sure and rinse until all the sand is washed away. Place on a cutting board to drain. Set on the side. 

 

The Assembly

Transfer the filling in a large dish and divide in 6 parts.

Gently spread leaves of half endive and tuck in, one portion of the stuffing. Cover with the other half, tie together with butcher twine and place into a deep baking pan. Repeat until you finish. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Drizzle the remaining olive oil on top and add water to cover half way. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and gently turn the stuffed endives with a tongue add some more water to cover half way and bake uncovered for an additional 20 minutes or until the endive is tender.

 

The Serving

Cut and remove the string, place into a serving dish or in individual plates, drizzle with some of the cooking liquid and serve with a crusty bread and a dry white wine.