This dip, inspired by the Venetian classic baccalà mantecato, is characterized by a light, airy texture and a deep, savory flavor. The traditional version of the dish is an appetizer made with unsalted dried cod, known as stockfish, which must be soaked and then simmered before using. Chef and recipe-developer Josh Cohen swapped that classic cod out for ready-to-eat smoked trout, which not only cuts down on prep time, but also lends a unique and smoky depth to the dish.
The first key to success with this recipe is to use the highest quality extra-virgin olive oil you can find. Something with grassy and peppery notes will balance out the flavor of the fish to create a dynamic bite. For easy prep, purchase boneless skinless trout fillets. The last detail to focus on is the texture of the potatoes: They must be truly tender before whipping them with the fish. If your potatoes are slightly undercooked, then you won’t achieve the ethereal texture that makes baccalà mantecato so memorable.
Crostini and crudité are both excellent vehicles for serving alongside this dip. Traditionally, baccalà mantecato is served with grilled polenta, so that is also an option. If you’ve prepared this dish ahead of time and stored it in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before serving so the texture is soft and easily spreadable.
- 1 medium russet potato (about ½ lb.), peeled and cut in 1-inch pieces
- 1 3⁄4 cups whole milk
- 1 bay leaf
- 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 3 medium garlic cloves, peeled and divided
- 8 oz. smoked trout
- 3⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Crostini or crudité, for serving