Salt Cod Cake on Grilled Toast
(Crostini di Baccalŕ)
SERVES 6 – 8
Italian, Portuguese, and other ethnic grocery stores usually carry salt cod of a better quality than the common supermarket kind.
1 lb. thick, boneless, skinless dried salt cod
2 cups milk
4 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
1 large yukon gold potato
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 thick slices ciabatta or other
country-style bread, grilled
1. Soak salt cod in a large bowl of cold water in the refrigerator for 3 days, changing water every 12 hours. Drain, pat dry, and cut into 3"–4" pieces. Bring milk and half the garlic just to a boil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, add salt cod, and simmer until tender, 35–40 minutes.
2. Steam potato in a steamer basket set over a pot of boiling water until soft, 35–40 minutes. Peel potato.
3. Remove pot with salt cod from heat and let fish cool in milk. Transfer fish to a large bowl. Strain milk into a small bowl, discarding garlic. Coarsely flake fish, discarding any stray bones and skin.
4. Bring cream and remaining garlic to a simmer in a small pot over medium-low heat. Simmer for 10 minutes, then set aside to let cool. Mash garlic in pot with cream with a fork.
5. Put potato into a large bowl and mash with a fork. Add cream and mashed garlic, flaked salt cod, and half the oil and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined but not smooth in texture. Mixture should be just moist enough to hold together when shaped into a 4"–5" patty. If it is too dry, stir in some of the milk, 1 tbsp. at a time. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Shape cod mixture into 12 4"–5"-long oval patties and put on a sheet pan. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, 20–30 minutes.
6. Heat 2 tbsp. of the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, cook fish cakes until golden brown on each side , 2-3 minutes per side, adding remaining oil to skillet as needed. Put salt cod cakes on top of bread slices. Serve ona serving platter garnished with dandelion greens or other bitter greens, if you like.