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X Italian Fish and Sea Food Dishes
baccala rachenate and baccala racanto
Baccala Rachenate or Baccala Racanto (Baked salt cod, using breadcrumbs, cauliflower, raisins and parsley)
Originated from: Casacalenda, Molise, Italy
Occasion: Christmas Eve
Contributed by: Mary Melfi (her mother's recipe).

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1 pound of salt cod (soaked and made ready for use)
1 head of cauliflower, broken into flowerets
1 1/2 cups home-made (or plain) breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup of water
1 cup raisins
Salt, pepper


Soak the salt cod in water according to package directions.

Break cauliflower into florets or small pieces.

Add olive oil to a casserole dish.

Add a layer of salt cod and cauliflower flowerets.

Sprinkle with homemade breadcrumbs.

Add half of raisins.

Season with salt, pepper, chopped garlic and parsley.

Add another layer of salt cod pieces and cauliflower flowerets.

Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Season with salt, pepper, raisins, chopped garlic and parsley.

Add 1/2 cup of water to the baking dish.

Cover the casserole dish.

Bake in a 350 F degree oven for about 40 minutes (If the dish gets too dry add a touch more water to prevent burning)

Serve warm.


My mother had told me that prior to World War II this dish, "baccala racchenate" was often done in Molise. However, after talking with a number of people about this dish, it now seems that this was not at all the case. Apparently, prior to World War II, this dish was only done on Christmas Eve. When I confronted my mother that other individuals from the Molise area told me that this dish was only done once a year, on Christmas Eve, she admitted that her mother too only did it on Christmas Eve, but she had assumed this had been the case because her family was one of the poorer families in the town, and so expected the other families to have had "baccala rachenate" any time they wished. In any when Italians immigrated to North America in the 1950s this dish was done any old time, and was not limited to Christmas Eve. By the 1970s most Christmas Eve dishes included expensive shrimp and other sea foods Italians had never used in the old country.... Photo: Mary Melfi

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