Christmas 3/fish recipe

Viviana Varese, chef at Alice, and her interpretation of “insalata di rinforzo”, a Christmas Eve traditional recipe

23-12-2013
Insalata di rinforzo as interpreted by Viviana Var

Insalata di rinforzo as interpreted by Viviana Varese, chef at Alice - Eataly Milano, which should open on March 4th 2014. The same dish can be found (for the price of 11 euros) at Alicette - Eataly Roma, until tomorrow, together with other take away Christmas recipes: Avocado and prawns, Octopus salad, Fish lasagne... (photo by Brambilla Serrani)

In Campania, Christmas means fish on Christmas Eve and meat on Christmas day. On the evening of December 24th, every family prepares Insalata di rinforzo, which is called thus because on that occasion it is tradition to eat a light meal, waiting to gorge oneself the following day. However, a “reinforcement” is still necessary not to eat “too” light. Usually, so much of this salad is prepared that it lasts until New Year’s Day and beyond. This dish can last for 10 days. In my version, cauliflower and salted codfish, which are traditionally boiled, are prepared in a different way: the cauliflower is a warm cream, the salted codfish is a confit. Here is the recipe.

“Insalata di rinforzo” – new version

Recipe for 4 people

INGREDIENTS
For the codfish
400 g desalted salted codfish
33 cc double malt beer
10 g extra virgin olive oil

For the cauliflower cream
1 cauliflower
1 onion
40 g extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
pepper to taste
aromatic herbs

The Insalata di rinforzo, traditional way (photo by Alimentipedia)

The Insalata di rinforzo, traditional way (photo by Alimentipedia)

For the anchovy sauce
100 g anchovies
100 g pine nuts
250 g stock
180 g boiled potato
80 g extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove

For the pickled vegetables
1 yellow pepper
1 red pepper
4 Tropea onions
1/2 cauliflower
4 carrots

For the marinade
500 g water
200 g white wine vinegar
160 g sugar
50 g salt
10 black peppercorns
Juice of 1/2 lemon

For the parsley sauce
50 g parsley
30 g extra virgin olive oil
20 g boiled potato
50 g vegetable stock
1 garlic clove
salt to taste
pepper to taste
aromatic herbs to taste

On the book published by Giunti, the Insalata di rinforzo and many other recipes

On the book published by Giunti, the Insalata di rinforzo and many other recipes

METHOD
For the cauliflower cream
Put the cauliflower into a pot with cold water and bring to the boil. Drain and add some more cold water and bring to the boil once again. Repeat the same procedure two more times then finish cooking. Slice the onion and fry it with the extra virgin olive oil. Add the cauliflower, a pinch of salt, pepper and cover with water. Cook and then blend the ingredients.

For the anchovy sauce
Fry the anchovies and the garlic in extra virgin olive oil. Cook for one minute and then blend with the other ingredients.

For the marinade
Mix all the ingredients and boil them. Dice the peppers and put them into vacuum packs. Cut the carrots and the cauliflower and cook them in two separate pans for 6 minutes in unsalted water. Put them into vacuum packs and add the boiling marinade mixture to every pack. Seal the vacuum packs three times. This procedure will allow the hot marinade to go inside all the vegetables, cooking them well while keeping them crispy. Leave to reach room temperature. Instead of vacuum packs, you can use jars but in this case the vegetables need to be cooked with the marinade for at least 10 minutes and then put into the jars. Freeze the beer. After that, put the codfish into the vacuum pack and add 10 g of extra virgin olive oil and a tablespoon of iced-beer. Seal the vacuum packs and cook at 58°C for 8 minutes.

Viviana Varese and Sandra Ciciriello (photo by Brambilla-Serrani)

Viviana Varese and Sandra Ciciriello (photo by Brambilla-Serrani)

For the parsley sauce
Blanch the parsley in a lightly salted water, drain it and leave it to cool in water and ice, then dry it. Cut the garlic cloves in halves, remove the central part and brown it in oil. Remove the garlic, add the parsley, plus salt and pepper and cook for two minutes. Remove from the stove and blend with the potato and the stock. Sieve and leave to cool.

FINISHING THE DISH
Put the cauliflower cream on the base of the dish, place the codfish on top – seasoned with a drop of extra virgin olive oil. Add the pickled vegetables, the anchovy sauce and the parsley sauce. Decorate with aromatic herbs and a few capers.


Sections

Chefs' life stories

Men who, for a moment, leave pots and pans to tell us their experience and point of view