Saturday, December 20, 2014

Cioppino for a Festive Holiday Main Course

'Tis the season for coming together with friends and family and lots of eating and drinking. Our Cioppino recipe is delicious and easy, and you can make most of it ahead of the party, leaving you more time to socialize with your guests. All you have to do is reheat the base and gently poach and steam the seafood right before serving. Don’t let the long list of ingredients daunt you, it’s really much easier than it looks! You could also make the base ahead of time and freeze until you need it.
Feel free to substitute seafood as needed. In the below picture, I swapped out sea scallops for the prawns.

This is a beautiful, tasty main dish that is easy to stretch to accommodate those extra guests. Just make sure there is lots of good, crusty bread on the side. Serve this up with a salad of arugula, roasted delicata squash (also do ahead) pomegranites and goat cheese, and you’ve got one festive supper.


(excerpted from the Fishes & Dishes Cookbook: Seafood Recipes and Salty Stories from Alaska's Commercial Fisherwomen. ©Epicenter Press 2010

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup finely diced celery
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, finely diced (about 1 cup)
1 medium bulb fennel, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 (28-ounce) cans whole or crushed tomatoes with their juice
1/4 cup chopped fennel fronds (optional)
1 packed tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary leaves
1 packed tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
1 packed tablespoon fresh chopped oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional or to taste)
2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
5 cups clam juice
1.5 pounds mixed fish (like halibut, cod, salmon)
1 pound peeled prawns, tails on
1 pound Manila clams, cleaned
1 pound mussels, debearded
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh chopped Italian parsley (flat leaf), plus additional for garnish
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in  a large pot over medium heat, and saute the onion, celery, garlic, carrots, and fennel until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes (if using whole tomatoes, which I prefer, crush them with your hands before adding to the pot), fennel fronds, rosemary, thyme, oregano, red pepper, 1 cup of the white wine, and the red wine vinegar. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

In a medium pot, bring the clam juice and the remaining 1 cup of white wine to a low simmer. Gently poach the fish and prawns in the clam juice in batches, about 2 to 4 minutes until the prawns are curled and the fish is starting to flake. Remove the fish and prawns with a slotted spoon and set aside, covered. Add the clam juice to the vegetable sin the big pot. Bring the stew to a boil, add the clams and mussels, and cover the pot. Decrease the heat to medium-low , and cook for 15 minutes until the clams and mussels have opened. Add the lemon juice, 1/2 cup of the parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon a variety of fish and shellfish into each bowl, and spoon hot soup around and over the seafood. Sprinkle with the additional chopped parsley. Serve hot.

Makes 6-10 servings

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