Trancetto di baccalà con quattro salse

Despite her two Michelin stars chef Valeria Piccini claims to have simple tastes: ‘I appreciate almost anything that has an honest flavour and tastes like it should,’ she says. ‘I’d much rather have a plain meal made with simple, genuine ingredients than a spectacular dish made from produce flown in from goodness knows where and designed principally to shock and surprise the diner.’

When I ask her if this means she’d like to see less innovation in modern cuisine, she holds up a warning finger. ‘Not at all. Innovation is positive, necessary, but you overstep the mark when you compromise the only thing that really matters in the end – the taste.

‘In spring I look forward to freshening the menu, making flavours lighter, using more colour' - says Valeria.
Good quality ingredients come together here to create a simple but elegant dish.

Ingredients

(serves four-six people)
4 x 125 g (soaked weight) thick, white slices of best quality salt cod;
25 g fresh rosemary leaves, chopped; 2 cloves garlic;
pinch crushed chilli peppers; 100 g fresh bread crumbs;
200 g fresh tomato salsa; 100 g onion, finely sliced;
50 g sultanas, previously soaked in a little water;
25 g pine nuts, lightly toasted; 50 g capers, previously soaked in water;
extra virgin olive oil; salt.

Preparation

(Salt cod needs to be soaked in plenty of water at least 24 hrs before cooking. Place cod in water, skin side up. Change the water at least three or four times, and pick out any visible bones. Weight more or less doubles during soaking process).
To cook the salt cod, place slices in an ovenproof dish and add enough olive oil to reach half the height of the fish. Cook in an oven preheated to 1400C until the cod reaches 380C at its centre. Reserve cooking juices.
Preparation of four sauces

  • First make some rosemary oil: whiz rosemary, garlic, chilli and 200 ml olive oil together in a food mixer, and put to one side.

  • Make tomato sauce: Warm the tomato salsa and add the capers.

  • Prepare breadcrumbs: Brown breadcrumbs in a hot frying pan with a few teaspoons of rosemary oil.

  • Make onion sauce: Cook onion in a frying pan with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt until the onions have softened. Add sultanas and pine nuts.

  • Make mayonnaise: Whiz together the cooking juices from the cod with two tablespoons of olive oil to form an emulsion. Still whizzing, add enough rosemary oil to make a rich, herby mayonnaise.

To serve, drain the slices of cod and place in the centre of plate. Garnish the dish with the different sauces.