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BACCALÀ

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Nick Curtola

Baccalà Stew by Nick Curtola
Photography courtesy Nick Curtola

Originally published in Issue No. 7

While the focus is on natural wine – diners can choose from an abundant list of about 650 different wines from small producers disseminated across the world – the food menu at The Four Horsemen is equally as exciting. Nick crafts shareable dishes starring seasonal and local ingredients that are both unexpected and delicious. Imbued by a myriad of influences, his revolving menus always artfully come together, as if held by an invisible common thread.

The Four Horsemen is a local treasure, and one of my favorite restaurants in New York City. The atmosphere and the music is always on point, thanks to the recording studio-grade acoustics (complete with a vintage preamp), and the service is always welcoming, considerate and informative. Just one year ago, The Four Horsemen and Nick were awarded their first well-deserved Michelin star. Nick shares his BACCALÀ Stew recipe.

This is a quick stew that has a lot of depth and tastes like it was tended to for hours. The addition of salt Baccalà adds richness and a beautiful texture that only salt Baccalà has. A spoon of aioli would be a beautiful addition.

Salt Baccalà Stew with Kimchi and Cannelini Beans (serves 4 people)

Ingredients
35g ramp bottoms, sliced thin
1T extra virgin olive oil plus a little extra to finish 150g cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 tsp kosher salt
540g cooked cannelini beans
500g chicken stock
300g kimchi (any type will work; cabbage, daikon, ramp, etc.)
175g salt baccalà, soaked 24hrs, cut into chunks 50g ramp greens
5g pimenton
2T fish sauce
1T tamari
Black pepper
1 bunch cilantro, rinsed, dried & roughly chopped

Procedure

1 — Sweat the ramp bottoms and cauliflower in the tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Some color
is fine, but try to cook them gently. Stews are all about building and layering flavors. They should never be rushed.

2 — When the ramps and cauliflower are fragrant and have
a slightly toasted aroma, add the beans, chicken stock, kimchi and the salt baccalà. Increase the heat and bring the stew to a simmer. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or so. The beans should break up slightly and the fish should flake into the broth , thickening it along the way.

3 — Taste the stew along the way. The flavors should start to meld together and the natural gelatin in the cod will add a nice richness. The kimchi should mellow in flavor and add a gentle acidity to the broth.

Once you’ve reached this state and you’re happy with the results, add the pimenton, fish sauce and tamari. Stir to incorporate and taste. Adjust if need be with salt or fish sauce. It really depends on the salinity of your salt baccalà and kimchi, but always season to your liking.

4 — Portion the stew into 4 bowls. Top with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a few cracks of black pepper (always use fresh from a pepper mill) and the chopped cilantro. Serve!

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