Anchovy and potato pie

Anchovy and potato pie

Quick preamble on the anchovy and potato pie: a few evenings ago, we were having dinner at my father-in-law’s, who, I must admit, is an excellent cook. Saying that, I don’t want to flatter anybody, it’s just the truth. It must be a gene that has been passed down through the entire male lineage of the family and passed on to the father and the four sons as well. The gene comes from the matriarch, the legendary grandmother Santuzza, a generaless of Sicilian origin who managed to educate even Moroccan and Romanian caregivers to good Sicilian cooking.

Grandma baked idyllic dishes, but she did not skimp on the use of cheese. Obviously, when I asked her if there was any trace of cheese in the baked pasta, she denied it with conviction. On the other hand, one day she managed to tell the Muslim carer that there was no pork in the mortadella… we managed to stop the unfortunate woman before she committed a sin.

My father-in-law, as I said, has inherited the same skill in the kitchen and evidently also the same nonchalance. For dinner he proposes a wonderful anchovy and potato pie. I serve myself a generous slice, but, at the first forkful, it seems clear that the apparent delight hides a trap, a ton of what I immediately label as: PECORINO! The worst of the worst! My brain goes into confusion… I ask him: “Did you by any chance put cheese in the pie?” And he, candidly: “Absolutely not!”

Denial is one of the problems I have to systematically deal with by not eating cheese. Everyone thinks I don’t know the taste of it, which, for most cheeses, is absolutely true, since I would never dream of taking a bite; but, since grana and pecorino lurk just about everywhere, it’s impossible to ignore their taste and existence. So yes, I can say with certainty that they make me sick! That said, I was left craving a nice pan of anchovies and potatoes so I proceeded to make my own version strictly ‘no cheese, please!‘.

Just a little advice before you start: buy fresh fish, anchovies that are shiny and turgid and, if you have the time, clean them yourself. This way you will be sure of what you are buying. To clean the anchovies, delicately remove the head, thus extracting the entrails as well. Pressing with your thumb on the belly, open the anchovies and remove the fishbone. Rinse them briefly in cold water. Clean them as soon as they are purchased, even if you are not preparing the dish immediately: in this case, put them in a closed container in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them. Of course, consume anchovies within a day or two.

If you love blue fish, do not miss the recipe for stuffed sardines Sicilian style.

INGREDIENTS for 4 servings

  • 500 g of very fresh anchovies
  • 400 g of potatoes
  • 80 g of breadcrumbs
  • 10 g of parsley leaves
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt

PREPARATION

  1. Peel the potatoes and slice them into thin slices. Boil them for 5 minutes in boiling salted water in order to soften them but making sure that they do not became too soft.
  2. Drain them and let them cool.
  3. Clean the anchovies, removing the head and the entrails. Open them up and remove the fishbone and tail. Rinse them briefly with cold water.
  4. Oil a mold of 22 cm in diameter and sprinkle the bottom and sides with a little breadcrumbs taken from the total.
  5. Mix the breadcrumbs with the chopped parsley and garlic, a pinch of salt and a drizzle of oil.
  6. Form a layer of anchovies on the bottom of the mold, coating the bottom well and allowing the anchovies to rise along the edge.
  7. Sprinkle the anchovies with a little of the flavored breadcrumbs.
  8. Make a layer of potatoes and sprinkle them with the breadcrumbs and a drizzle of oil.
  9. Continue alternating a layer of anchovies, breadcrumbs and potatoes until you run out of ingredients and end with a layer of anchovies. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and drizzle with oil.
  10. Bake at 170 °C for 25 minutes.

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