Christmas Focaccia Nissena Caltanissetta Style
Natalizia alla Nissena
Nissena di Natali
The impanata Nissena prepared for Christmas is stuffed with baccala’, salted cod, and a unique tomato sauce.
The classic mpanata Nissena is made with three
layers of dough, but if the middle layer is not cooked to perfection, the result is a regrettable waste of efforts
and ingredients. We recommend making it with two layers of dough and the stuffing in between.
For the Dough
· 2 lb flour
· 2 oz fresh active yeast or 3 envelopes of dry
· 4 tablespoons olive
· ½ teaspoon
· Pinch of
Or buy 2 lb. of bread
dough in your local Italian bakery and work 4 tablespoons of olive oil into the
In a bowl, mix ½ cup of warm water with the
yeast. Add the sugar and ½ cup of flour and mix until it is well blended and a soft dough is formed. If it is too
dry, add some water; if it is too watery, add some flour. Set aside, covered, in a warm place. After 45 minutes to
1 hour, combine risen dough with remaining flour and add some lukewarm water, the oil and a pinch of salt and knead
to obtain an elastic dough similar to bread dough. Make a ball, cut across the top to allow it to rise again, cover
and put in a warm place until it almost doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours.
For the Stuffing
· 8 large plum
· 4 tablespoons olive
· 2 cloves garlic, finely
· 4 basil leaves, torn into
· ½ teaspoon oregano (more or less to
· Salt and
· 2 lb boneless salted cod, baccala’, pre-soaked for 48 hours, changing
the water at least every 12 hours
· 2 cups
· 1 cup olive oil for
· Salt and
Greased baking pan (13 x
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash the
tomatoes, wipe dry, place in a pan and bake for 15 minutes.
When cooled enough to be handled, peel, remove
seeds, chop, place in a bowl and add olive oil, garlic, torn basil leaves, oregano (to taste) and salt and pepper.
Mix it with a spoon and set on the side.
Cut fillets of baccala’ into pieces, approximately 2 x 1 ½ inches.
Wipe the fillets dry with paper towels or a
clean kitchen towel.
Place 1 cup of flour in a wide pan to dip the
In a 10-inch skillet, over a medium flame,
heat about ½ cup of olive oil.
Place 1/3 of fillets in flour to coat lightly.
When the oil is hot but not smoking, add a few
coated fillets and fry them until golden brown on all sides. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
Continue until all baccala’ is fried. If needed add more flour to pan or
more oil to frying skillet.
When dough is ready, split it into 2 pieces.
Briefly knead each piece and roll one to cover the greased baking pan (13 x 8), making sure that the dough goes a
little over the edge of the pan.
Place the fried baccala’ in the dough-lined pan (after checking if salt is needed) and evenly
spread the tomato sauce over it.
Moisten the edge of the impanata with water and knead the other piece of
dough, roll and place it on top. Pinch it all around to make sure it is firmly sealed.
Cut 2 or 3 slits on top to allow the vapor to escape.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, bake for 15
minutes, remove from oven and wash top of the mpanata with 2 tablespoons
of olive oil.
Return to oven for an additional 15 to 20
minutes until light golden brown.
Serve it hot!