From candy canes to mulled wine, Christmas is a chance to indulge in certain taste traditions. You might prepare these holiday treats near the sparkly lights of your tree, or you might enjoy them under the neon lights of the Strip. We talked about holiday food traditions from cultures around the world, as celebrated right here in Las Vegas.
Neriza Johnson, Owner, Dona Maria Tamales
Elizabeth White Nelson, UNLV Prof. of pop culture and food history
Frank Pelligrino Jr., Owner, Rao’s Italian restaurant
Coco Astals, student at Culinary Academy and second generation Filipino cook
Frank Pelligrino of Rao's Restaurants shared this recipe for salted cod, a traditional part of the Feast of the Seven Fishes:
Uncle Vincent's Christmas Eve Baccala
Recipe courtesy Rao's Restaurant
4 pounds dried salt cod, cut into 3-inch pieces, soaked
8 to 10 all-purpose potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 cup fine quality olive oil
1 bunch celery, trimmed, well washed, and cut into 3-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups Gaeta olives, pitted
4 (28-ounce) cans hand crushed San Marzano plum tomatoes, with juice
12 cups chicken broth
Salt, to taste
Soak the cod in cold water to cover in a cool spot or refrigerator for at least 24 hours or up to 3 days, changing the water frequently. After 24 hours, break off a tiny piece of fish and taste for saltiness. If fish is still quite salty, continue soaking until water is very clear and fish is almost sweet in taste.
Place potatoes in cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are almost cooked through. Drain.
Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed casserole over medium heat. Add the celery and saute for about 5 minutes, then add the onion and saute until vegetables begin to get soft. Add the olives and saute for an additional minute. Stir in the tomatoes and their juice. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in broth and return to simmer.
Stir in the potatoes and the soaked baccala and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked and the baccala flakes when poked with a fork.
Taste and, if necessary, add salt. Serve hot.
Note: Often, salt cod dishes will require no additional salt. Therefore, always