With or without ……… milk?
ingredients for 4 servings (cost about 5€ pp)
- 500 g cod
- 150 g very gentle olive oil
- 150 g milk
- 1 large garlic clove
- black pepper
- one or two baguettes
- candied or raw orange peels
- tiny basil leaves
Amatriciana with spaghetti or bucatini?
Potato omelette with or without onion?
Souvlaki, with or without tzatziki?
You may know these eternal culinary dilemmas. There is also one not so notorious and it refers to the cod cream, the baccalà mantecato. The dilemma is with or without milk?
Two neighbour towns at the northern part of Italy quarrel about their cod cream version. The Venetians consider that their mantecato cod with NO milk is better, while the habitants of Vicenza, the contrary. Having already presented the Venetian version, today we will go a little bit more to the west.
First of all, I repeat the classic and very important rule for creams and sauces, made without heat, which is that all ingredients must be at room temperature, otherwise the result will not be perfect. The cod in particular – the basic ingredient of today’s dish – will not absorb the oil and the milk and it will not form an homogeneous cream, as it has to.
So, we wash the cod piece under running water to remove the salt which is found at the exterior part. We then cut the cod in pieces, we put it in a large container with plenty of cold water and we leave it IN THE FRIDGE, for at least 48 hours, changing the water every 12 hours, approximately. I think it is self-evident that the changing water always has to be very cold.
When the cod is well desalted, we continue our preparation. We always must be sure that the fish is not too salty, so we taste it. After this procedure we can keep the cod in the fridge for up to 3 days, not more because the water starts to create bacteria.
We remove the cod from the fridge and we carefully remove all the bones. We put the filets in a small casserole with the milk, 150 ml cold water and the garlic clove and we simmer it for about 20-25 minutes, removing constantly the foam with a skimmer. We take the cod out of the water and we let it cool completely. We also keep about 100 ml of cooking liquid as it is full of proteins and it will help us bind the cod cream.
In a bowl we place the cod and we melt it with the immersion blender. We start adding oil (if we don´t have very gentle olive oil, I suggest the use of an EV sunflower one) and cooking liquid till we create a very light and pleasant cream. We add some pepper, we check if the salt is OK and we put in the fridge for half an hour.
We arrange six crostini on each plate, we top them with cod cream, we garnish the cream with candied or even raw orange peels, some more pepper and a small basil leaf and we serve.