Baccalà Mantecato

On our recent trip to Venice, for lunch, we met up with a FaceBook friend who lives just outside of Venice, Monica Cesarato. Monica does a cicchetti (Venetian Style tapas) tour so we knew that she could lead us to some great Venetian bacari, or wine bars, where we could enjoy some cicchetti with a glass of the local white wine.

Monica ended up taking us to three of her favorite bacari where we shared some delicious Venetian seafood specialties, and at the last bacari she had us order the Baccalà Mantecato, which is creamed dried cod that was served on slices of crusty bread. It was truly wonderful, and I think I have finally been converted to appreciating baccalà myself! Who knew dried sea cod could ever taste THAT good?

I have made this dish once in the past after another trip to Venice, but the recipe I used then included boiled potatoes and cream and I found it very bland. Monica’s recipe is much simpler, and although traditionally the baccala is beaten with olive oil and a wooden spoon, I took Monica’s advice and used a hand immersion blender which worked out great.

Monica says it can take up to an hour to obtain the right texture beating the cod and olive oil with the wooden spoon, so I decided for me the blender was the way to go. This dish is often served on polenta, but we served ours at home on slices of grilled bread.

I must admit that in all honesty I have not been a big fan of baccalà in the past as I usually find the taste a bit strong for my liking so I soaked my dried cod for three days instead of two. I also found that if you use the fatter, whiter meat of the cod for this dish rather than the thinner end pieces the flavor will be a bit milder which I really liked.

For me, the trick to getting a really light, whipped texture was to add the oil in slowly and beating well as you do so, just as you would in making mayonnaise. Dried salted cod can be found at many seafood or European specialty stores.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 

Baccalà Mantecato

Baccalà Mantecato

Yield: Serves 6 - 8
Prep Time: 3 days
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 days 30 minutes

A Venetian specialty of whipped salted cod served on slices of bread or polenta.


  • 1/2 Pound of Dried Cod
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Extra Vigin Olive Oil

To Serve:

  • Cracked Black Pepper


  1. Cut the cod into pieces and place them into a pan full of water.
  2. Leave it in water for 2 to 3 days, changing the water twice daily.
  3. After soaking, change the water again and place the cod and water, along with a bay leaf and cook for 30 minutes on low heat, removing any foam that comes to the surface.
  4. After 30 minutes, remove the cod from the pan and place in a container with high sides.
  5. Remove the skin and the bones from the cod and add 2 gloves of garlic.
  6. Take a wooden spoon (or immersion hand blender) and start to mix vigorously, slowly adding the olive oil.
  7. The quantity of the oil will depend on the cod itself.
  8. Continue mixing until the cod turns light and has a whipped, mousse-like texture.
  9. Taste and add salt if required.
  10. Serve on fresh cut bread slices or grilled slices of polenta.
  11. Sprinkle top with some cracked black pepper.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 3 pieces
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 132Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 2706mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 24g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram


    1. Monica, I’m sure your baccala is much better than mine. You can show me how you make yours next visit to Umbria! Kisses back at you!

  1. Deborah – I have just come across your blog and my mouth is watering with all of the wonderful recipes and stories of Umbria! My husband is American, I am British, we currently live in England but spend a lot of time travelling in Italy and hope to work/run a property there one day.

    The sun is shining here (at last) and I have some soaked salt cod so I’m going to try and make the baccala mantecato – I realise that the amount of olive oil depends on the cod and personal texture preference but are you able to give me a very rough idea of how much you used to make yours?

    Thank you so much.

  2. Ciao Deborah — I was on a quest to find a recipe close to my mamma’s baccala mantecato and I believe yours and Monica’s would be the closest I remember. I do believe that mamma sometimes added persemolo– do you ever add any to yours. I am making this Christmas eve and I’ll be posting it on my blog. I was born in Isola D’Istria when it was Italy. We moved to the states when I was but I still have relatives in Trieste. I’m glad I found your blog!! I’m posting some stories of my parents and also Italian recipes. You just can’t beat Italian food. Your motto reminds me of ” Chi mangia bene sta molto vicino a Dio. Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo!

  3. Hi Monica, my husband and I returned from Italy and were guests at a Venetian Farmer’s Union event at the Expo. Fabulous folks and the food was equally as amazing. I was able to get a “recipe” for the boiled garlic, but I was hoping to find a “real” recipe. The dish is an antipasto that is mild, flavorful and absolutely fabulous!

    Through as translated as possible, we were told to boil the garlic with a bay laurel leaf, rosemary, and thyme. Olive oil and white vinegar is the liquid it is marinated in. That is the best we have. Could you help us out with proportions and method?


  4. Sounds wonderful. So happy I found your site. My Italian husband will be thrilled I found this recipe. I was trying to figure out what to do with the ends of the Baccalá we have in the freezer. Do you leave the fish out of the fridge to soak out the salt? This is my first time making this spread and Baccalá A Vesuviana for Christmas eve. It is how his mom prepared it growing up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.