(Crostini di Baccala)
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
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.
Steam potato in a steamer basket set over a pot of boiling water until soft, 35–40 minutes. Peel potato.
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.
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.
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.
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 on a serving platter garnished with dandelion greens or other bitter greens, if you like.