Christmas Eve, or Natale as it is known in Italy, is a very special time of year. The festive season lasts from the 24th of December until the 6th of January in this Mediterranean land, so the first meal of the Christmas season is very important to set the right mood for the festivities.
The Italian traditional meal on Christmas Eve is light and contains no red meat. It is an ancestral tradition in many parts of Italy to have a beautiful fish dish before attending Midnight Mass, and the below recipe is the perfect meal to have with some lovely wine and the company of family and friends.
Baccala alla Vicentina with polenta
- 600g of fresh deboned and desalted cod
- 250ml of fresh whole milk
- 200g of white onions
- 20g of tinned anchovies
- 250 ml of Extra Virgin olive oil
- 50g white flour
- 50g grated Parmesan cheese
- 10g of fresh parsley
- Pinch of salt, to taste
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 500g of cornmeal
- 2.8 litres of salted water
- A sharp knife
- A chopping board
- A mixing bowl
- One large frying pan for the Baccala
- One large ceramic casserole dish (such as one from our ceramic range)
- One large saucepan for the polenta
- One metal whisk for the polenta
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- To begin, wash and dry the fresh parsley, then chop finely. Peel the onions and chop them finely.
- Put enough oil in the frying pan to cover the bottom and brown the onions.
- Drain the anchovies as the onions are frying and ensure no liquid is left.
- When the onions have turned golden in colour, add to anchovies to the mix, sprinkling all of the chopped parsley on top and stirring to combine.
- Pour a layer of the mixture into the casserole dish, ensuring it is evenly spread to cover the bottom thoroughly.
- Cut the cod into even chunks, and gently coat them in flour using the mixing bowl.
- Add the cod the casserole dish, and layer alternately between the frying pan mixture and the cod until both are completely used.
- Sprinkle the parmesan over the top, and liberally pour the milk over the top.
- Pour the remainder of the oil on top. The liquids should completely cover the cod to ensure it does not burn.
- Place the casserole dish into the oven. Cook on the same heat for approximately three hours, checking every hour or so to ensure nothing is burning. Do not stir the mixture.
- In the last hour whilst the cod is cooking, boil the salted water in a saucepan and slowly add the cornmeal, stirring continuously until it is all combined. Continue stirring regularly for about an hour. If the mixture is too thick, add more hot water to thin it.
- Once the cod has cooked, sprinkle it with salt and ground pepper to taste and serve with the polenta. Enjoy!
This recipe will bring the taste of northern Italy to your household, and can be left relatively unattended once fully prepared, making it a great dish for a busy Christmas Eve. Our selected range of ceramic dishes are perfect for putting together a beautiful Baccala alla Vicentina recipe.