As a scholar of traditional Spanish and Italian ingredients and preservation techniques, Stratton is fond of salt cod. This recipe for stuffed roasted Cipollini onions is "one of my all-time favorite things to do with salt cod." "Salt cod," muses Stratton, "is truly one of the great culinary achievements, a foodstuff that goes through a nearly alchemical transformation and becomes a thing that has very little to do with fresh cod." Stratton will be serving this dish this Sunday, January 17, at a benefit for Bailey-Boushay House.Cipollini Onions Stuffed with Salt Cod
24 medium Cipollini onions
1 pound salt cod (soaked in cold water for 24 hours, changing water once)
6 cloves garlic
4 bay leaves
1 lemon, sliced
generous pinch chili flakes
1 pound Yukon gold potato, peeled and cubed
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
zest of one lemon, taken off with a microplane or very fine grater
1/4 cup cream
Preheat the oven to 425. Lightly oil and salt the unpeeled cipollinis and place on a sheet pan. Roast onions for approximately 20 minutes. Onions should be yielding to a firm touch, but not completely soft. Let onions cool. Peel onions carefully, removing the tops and the root ends by cutting a small circle. Remove the inner layers of each onion, leaving one to two outer layers intact.
Meanwhile, place cod into a pot and add just enough cold water to cover. Tie bay, lemon slices, peppercorns and chili flake into cheesecloth to make a sachet. Add sachet to the pot and bring to a very gentle simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes or until cod is just flaking and quite tender. It is important not to let the cod boil or it will become very tough. Let the salt cod cool down to just above room temperature in the water. Remove cod and clean it carefully, scraping all the white membrane away with a paring knife. Remove any bones and flake the cod apart.
Add the cubed potatoes to the water you cooked the cod in. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until the potatoes are completely tender. Drain potatoes completely and discard sachet. Meanwhile, place cod into a stand mixer and beat on medium speed with the paddle attachment until the cod is light and fluffy. Add potato, parsley and lemon zest; mix until potatoes are fully incorporated. Mix in cream and finish seasoning with salt and pepper.
Using your hands, carefully stuff the hollowed-out cipollinis with the salt cod mixture.
To serve, warm the cipollini in a little meat broth or water, a generous knob of butter and a squeeze of lemon juice in the oven at 400 degrees about 10 minutes or until browned on top. Then reduce the pan liquid on the stove top until slightly thickened. At Spinasse, we serve this with quartered celery hearts that have been quickly caramelized in a very hot oven, toasted pine nuts, and celery leaves.