• Baccala Mantecato is a creamy salt cod paste enjoyed throughout special holidays and occasions in Italy. (Getty Images)

This creamy, salty spread is enjoyed over special holidays in Italy, such as Easter or Christmas. It's labour and time intensive, but the deep, rustic flavours you get at the end are worth it. Serve baccala mantecato with a good crusty bread, crackers, crostini or vegetables. 

Serves
6-8

Preparation

8hr

Cooking

2hr
15min

Skill level

Mid
By
Average: 4.6 (11 votes)
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Ingredients

  • 115 g salt cod fillet
  • 115 g fresh cod fillet (optional, replace with salt cod if not using)
  • 1 large pink eye potato, skin on
  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¾ cup evo
  • 1 tbsp anchovy paste
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • sea salt and black pepper

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Place the salt cod under running water to wash off the excess salt and then soak in cold water for a minimum of 8 hours, changing the water every three to four hours. Boil the potato for 35-40 minutes until tender. Drain and let cool until it can be handled, then peel and pass through a fine sieve. Set aside.
 
Bring two cups of milk, half of the onion and the bay leaf to a gentle simmer. Add the soaked salt cod pieces and poach at just under a simmer for 1 - 1½ hours, until it starts to fall apart easily. Remove from heat and let cool completely while still in the pan. Drain in a sieve, reserving the cod and onion and discarding the milk, bay leaf and any obvious cod bones. Transfer the fish and onion to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. With the machine running, slowly add about half a cup of the onion and anchovy paste, and process until pureed. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
 
Heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil in a small, shallow pan over medium heat. Add the remaining onion and anchovy paste and saute for about 4 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add 2 cups of the remaining milk and bring to a gentle simmer. Slip the fresh cod into the pan and simmer gently for about 2 minutes, or until the fish is slightly undercooked in the centre. Lift out the fish and transfer to a blender. Discard the milk and onion. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil and butter and process until smooth. Add the salt cod puree and pulse to combine. Add the reserved potato and the remaining half cup of milk and process until smooth. Strain through a sieve and into a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.