Venetian Bellini Cocktail and Grilled Polenta with Baccalà Mantecato (Codfish Mousse)

Do you need ideas for a perfect appetizer? Serve a mousse of salted cod on baked polenta as people use to do in one of the most beautiful cities in the world: VeniceThe Venetians call their appetizers cicchetti (the Venetian version of the danish smørrebrødand they are usually served with a glass of wine known as ombra.
A typical cicchetto is prepared with baccalà mantecato, a mousse of dried and rehydrated codfish, boiled and whipped with olive oil until light and airy. 

Among other classical cicchetti there are: slides of squid ink polenta with baccalà mantecato, white polenta with cuttlefish and sarde in saor.

Baccalà mantecato is one of the most popular method to serve the baccalà  in the North of Italy … let’s see the recipe!


INGREDIENTS for 4 servings:

For the polenta

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup instant polenta

Bring 4 cups of water and the salt to a boil in a saucepan. When it is boiling, stir constantly with a whip and slowly add in the polenta. Cook stirring slowly but steady, until the polenta thickens, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Line a dish pan with greaseproof paper and spread the polenta into it as evenly as you can, up to a thickness of about 2 cm. Let it cool. Cut the polenta into squares, rectangles or circles, as you desire. 

For grilled polenta

Heat a cast-iron grill pan over high heat. Grill polenta, turning once, until slightly charred, about 4 minutes.

For the baccalà
  • 300 gr fresh filet codfish
  • 150 gr extra vergin olive oil
  • 200 ml milk
  • salt
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley

Transfer the codfish into a saucepan, add milk and 10 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook about 15- 20 minutes by skimming occasionally. Drain the cod, and set aside 14 cup of the cooking liquid. Mix cod, cooking liquid, garlic and parsley in a food processor until smooth. While processor is running, pour in the oil and continue mixing until smooth. Can also beat well with the wooden spoon. Transfer it into a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Let the cod mousse cool for about 30 minutes.

Serve the grilled polenta with a dollop of cod mousse.

If you would like to try a different traditional version of the baccalà mantecato we suggest you the following link: rossomelograno_baccalà mantecato. The method is the same but it is without milk and parsley. It is perfect on slices of bread or on grilled polenta, of course!

Bellini cocktail recipe


When the weather is hot, is there anything better than a refreshing cocktail? Delicious and easy, peach Bellini is perfect. Two simple ingredients combined for a refreshing sparkly drink. This cocktail was created by Giuseppe Cipriani, owner of Harry’s Bar in Venezia, who named his cocktail after the Venetian painter Giovanni Bellini. He used sparkling Italian wine, Prosecco, and juicy peaches that are full of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals….all good reasons to indulge and have a drink!

INGREDIENTS for 3 flûtes

300 ml  chilled sparkling wine like Prosecco
100 gr  white peach puree

Rinse the peaches in cool running water.
Halve them and remove their stones, keeping the skin on. Put the peaches in a blender bowl and mix until smooth. Strain the puree into a fine meshed sieve to obtain a homogeneous pulp.

Pour the puree into a shaker, add the cold Prosecco and shake quickly the ingredients.
Pour the cocktail in a flûte and serve chilled.

Tips: you can prepare Bellini also with nectarines or berries.  Use frozen glasses.

Are you in Venezia? Drink the best Bellini ever at Harry’s bar and taste the best cicchetti at the bacaro (Osteria restaurant) Bancogiro, under Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge) in front of Canal Grande, close to the Venetian Fisher market (the best Italian fish market).  Enjoy it!

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