Soak the salt cod in cold water. Salt cod needs a long soaking to remove the preserving salt, so start at least 1 day in advance. First, wash off excess salt under cold, running water. Place fish in a bowl, or crock, of cold water and refrigerate, changing the water several times. Soak until the fish feels soft and almost fresh, this will take a good 24 hours.
Poach the salt cod. In a 2-quart pan, add onion, bay leaf, peppercorns, and water and bring to a simmer. After 5 minutes, add the drained soaked codfish and enough water to cover the fish. Bring to a simmer. When it comes to a simmer, cover immediately, and remove pan from heat (salt cod toughens if simmered more than a few seconds). Let stand for 10 minutes or until you are ready to use it.
Drain the fish and flake it into a bowl. In a separate bowl, mash the potatoes. Using your hands or a wooden fork, mix the mashed potatoes in with flaked cod. The portions are up to you, more potato than fish is usually the norm. Suggested seasonings to be added at this point are chopped onion, chopped parsley, pepper, etc. In a cup, beat eggs with a pinch of salt. Beat 3/4 of eggs into the fish and potato mixture. Add more egg by drops if mixture is very stiff. Add a little cornmeal if the mixture is too wet. Let cool 20 minutes for easy forming.
In a frying pan, heat about 1/2-inch of butter or bacon grease. Shape cod mixture into small patties, being sure to flatten out the centers. Just before placing in the frying pan, coat patties with cornmeal. Fry 2 to 3 minutes on each side until browned. Remove to a tray lined with paper towels. Keep warm in 200 degree F oven while frying the remaining.
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