Recipes and Ramblings in Italy

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Recipe of the Week (February 18, 2016)

Posted by William Abruzzo on February 19, 2016 at 4:40 PM

Crocchette di Baccala (Venetian Potato and Salted Cod Croquettes)




        This week's recipe takes us to the region of VENETO. Cicchetti is a Venetian snack tradition similar to tapas in Spain. After work, Venetians head to the bars to socialize, snack on cicchetti, and have a glass of wine. Typical cicchetti include fried seafood, seafood salads, croquettes, sautéed vegetables, and plates of cured meats, olives and cheese.The varieties are endless. After a long day of sightseeing, hitting a cicchetti bar is a great way to wet your appetite before heading to dinner at one of the seafood restaurants near the Rialto Bridge. Here is a recipe inspired by the tasty croquettes I enjoyed in Venice. They are filled with a mixture of potato, salted cod and spinach. Be sure to fry them until crisp and golden brown and serve them with a glass of Pinot Grigio from the hills of Veneto.



 Salted or Fresh Cod (1lb)

 Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese (1 tbs)

 Russet Potatoes (2 medium -about 1 lb)

 Spinach (1/3 lb)

 Garlic (2 cloves)

 Green Onions (3)

 Egg (4)

 Breadcrumbs (4 cups)

 Olive Oil (for sautéing)

 Corn Oil (about 2 ½ quarts for frying)

 Black Pepper (to taste)

 Paprika (to taste)

 Salt (to taste)


         If you are using salted cod, soak it in plenty of cool water for at least 48 hours, changing the water at least 3 times daily. The cod will rehydrate and become soft and pliable. Boil the salted cod for 10 to 15 minutes, depending upon thickness, and then remove it from the pot and set it to drain in a colander. If you are using fresh cod, simply place it in a pot or deep frying pan, cover it with water, season it with salt, and set it on a low burner. Allow the cod to poach for 10 to 15 minutes, depending upon thickness, and then set it to drain in a colander.


         Meanwhile, peel the potatoes, cut them into ¾ inch cubes, and boil them in lightly salted water until tender. Drain the potatoes in a colander and transfer them to a large mixing bowl with the cod. Crumble the potatoes and cod with a fork and mix them together. Be careful not to over-work the mixture, as the texture should be coarse, not be pasty. Sprinkle the grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese over top and set the bowl to the side.


         Next, chop the spinach, green onion and garlic. Coat the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil and saute the green onion and garlic until soft. Next, add the chopped spinach and season with salt, black pepper and paprika. When the spinach has wilted, add it to the potato and cod mixture and fold everything together. If necessary, add a few drizzles of olive oil to moisten and re-season with salt and spices.


        Beat the eggs with a splash of water. Shape the filling into 2 inch diameter balls, dip them in the egg and then dredge them in the breadcrumbs. Heat plenty of vegetable oil in a deep frying pan and fry the croquettes until golden brown. Place the croquettes on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Serve warm or room temperature with a wedge of lemon. Makes 14 croquettes. Serves 6 adults.

Categories: Appetizers, Snacks, Soups, and Salads, Pesce

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Reply Corinne
12:47 PM on March 4, 2016 
Hello. I just tried salted cod for the first time and really enjoyed it. Can you post other recipes soon?
Reply ScampieLover
12:12 AM on February 27, 2016 
Delicious!! Looking forward to reading your cookbook!!!
Reply charluzza
12:47 AM on February 26, 2016 
Love salted cod. Made this recipe tonight and it was a great hit with my family!
Reply mariabella
12:11 AM on February 23, 2016 
Your pictures are so appetizing. This recipe sounds delicious. I will certainly try it!!

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Roll Out Pie Dough with Ease Using Plastic Wrap

This is an old trick I learned years ago from my mother. The next time you bake a pie, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap. This will prevent the dough from sticking to your rolling pin and will make it easier to transport the dough from your work surface to the pie dish or baking sheet.

Cover your entire work surface with plastic wrap and sprinkle it lightly with flour. Turn the dough onto the wrap, pat it down to 1 inch thickness, sprinkle it lightly with flour, and then cover it with a second layer of wrap. Roll out the dough to just less than ¼ inch thickness and remove the top layer of wrap. Lift the dough using the bottom layer of wrap, turn it on to a lightly greased pie dish or baking sheet, and then remove the wrap. Its quick and easy! 

Tips on Italian Ingredients

 Frying Tomato Paste Enhances the Flavor and Adds Depth to Your Dish

Many recipes direct you to stir tomato paste into a sauce, soup or stew. However, frying the tomato paste first fully develops its flavor and eliminates any raw or metallic taste. It is a quick and easy way to enhance the flavor of your dish. Tomato paste should always be added at the beginning of a recipe, rather than at the end. This allows its flavor to marry with the dish. Add it immediately after sautéing your aromatics in olive oil or rendered fat. When the aromatics are soft, push them to one side of your pot or frying pan. Place a dollop of tomato paste on the other side, tilt the pot or frying pan to pool the oil around the tomato paste, and let it gently sizzle for about 2 minutes.  After the tomato paste has fried, incorporate it into the aromatics and then add the liquid and other ingredients to complete your sauce, soup or stew. 

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