SERVES 4 TO 6
Benevento is often the exception to the rule in Campania. It was ruled by the Germanic Lombards long after any other part of Southern Italy was. It was never part of the Kingdom of Naples or the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. It was still a Papal State at the time of Italian unification in 1860. And, more to the culinary point, the Beneventani are more likely to combine garlic and onion in one dish when most Campanians would make a face of disgust at the mention of such a thing. Except for that touch, this could as easily be Neapolitan, or from Salerno.
Mussillo is the center-cut of the cod, a thick and solid cut - you might say the tenderloin. North American cod bought in the approximately one-pound box usually provides such a piece; the thinner or scraggly pieces are generally trimmed off and sold as flaked cod. You will probably have to buy two boxes to get enough for this recipe. Use the rest to make another recipe with cod.
1 medium-large onion, thinly sliced
1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons Filippo Berio extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound mussillo of salt cod, weighed after it has soaked for 36 hours, and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
3/4 pound all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 canned peeled plum tomatoes, with their interior juices
12 Gaeta olives, pitted and halved
2 tablespoons salted capers, thoroughly rinsed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
In a deep 10-inch skillet, a sauté pan, or a shallow stove-top casserole, which should have a cover and, optimally, should be presentable enough to take to the table, sauté the onion and the garlic in the olive oil until the onion is golden, about 8 minutes. Remove and reserve about half the onion and garlic mixture.
Arrange a layer of salt cod over the onions remaining in the pan, then make a layer of sliced potato. Spread around the reserved onion mixture. Cut or crush the tomatoes directly into the pan and spread them around. Spread around the olives, the capers, and the oregano. Pour the water over all, then drizzle with the additional tablespoon of olive oil.
Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Keep the heat adjusted so the dish simmers briskly for about 30 minutes. In the end, the potatoes should be tender and a flavorful broth will have developed.
Let stand, covered, for 10 minutes, during which time the potatoes will become softer, absorbing some of the juices; the juices left in the pan, although reduced in volume, will become a rosy colored sauce.
For maximum visual effect, bring the pan to the table undisturbed and serve, hot or warm, directly from the pan. (The longer the dish sits and cools, the fewer, but more viscous the juices, which is actually the way some people prefer it.)
This recipe was presented by Arthur Schwartz on an episode of Ciao Italia.
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