Any gracious host knows that serving up a good meal is much more enjoyable when you can also ridicule and insult your guests. And cod can help on both fronts.
It’s a little known fact… but cod, the ubiquitous white fish that has fed the masses for 1,000 years, has also been used as a metaphor to insult people for centuries.
“You smell like a codfish.” The explorers of centuries ago relied on salted and dried cod for nourishment during their long voyages. Needless to say, after a few weeks out on the high seas, the aging cod didn’t exactly smell like a bed of roses.
“You mean all this time we were taking orders from a codfish?” Peter Pan to Captain Hook, who wasn’t well liked, to say the least.
“You dumb cod.” Apparently, cod are not the smartest fish in the sea, and hence, calling someone a cod or codpiece is akin to calling them an idiot. You’re covered in Italian too because calling someone a “baccala” means the same.
And so my dearest baccala, please whip up a batch of baccala’ mantecato (which means whipped, and is popular in Veneto) and invite over some of your cod-like friends for a tasty bowl of pasta, coupled with some choice cod insults. They’ll ask for seconds.
p.s. Check out our wine pairings to complement this dish.
In a large pot, dilute the broth with the water. Add garlic and bring to a boil. Add the fish and cover. After 2-3 minutes, remove from heat and let cool. (If using dried or salted cod, soak it in cold water for 24-48 hours, changing the water frequently.)
Remove the fish with a slotted spoon from the pot, retain the cooking liquid. Crumble the fish with your fingers into a bowl, removing any bones. Add a few ounces of the cooking liquid and whip with a wooden spoon until it is separated. At the point, remove it to a food processor or use a handheld mixer or continue with the spoon. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, alternating with the milk. Continue to whip together until a creamy consistency is achieved. Add salt and pepper to taste. Finally, stir in the parsley with a spoon.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the paccheri for half of the suggested cooking time. Drain them and drizzle with olive oil so they do not stick together.
Using a spoon or a pastry bag, carefully fill each paccheri with the baccala and place them on a baking tray.
Heat an oven to 350F degrees. On a lower shelf, place a pan of water, so that it creates some moisture in the oven. On an upper shelf, warm the paccheri for 10-15 minutes or until they are serving temperature.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, sauté the onion in the olive oil until golden. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium heat for about 10 to 15, until slightly reduced.
Remove the paccheri from the oven, and plate 4-6 per person, cover with a spoonful of the tomato sauce. Serve immediately.