Monday, January 10, 2011

Classic Cioppino Seafood Stew

The time has come to was poetic about Christmas (Eve) dinner.  Even though it wasn't at my house I got to be in charge (yay) and I decided on an Italian themed meal. 
The Sunset Cookbook
To begin, we started with Cioppino from my new passion, the Sunset Cookbook.  Rich, slightly spicy and so incredibly full of flavor we had it with crusty bread and a nice red wine. 

Despite all the ingredients, it is an easy stew to make, once the crab is cracked (and I highly recommend a 17-yr old nephew to do that work for you!)  However after that part is completed, the rest of the work comes in chopping veggies and prepping the mussels (or clams as the recipe calls for).

The tomatoes and wine simmer happily away while the shrimp and mussels release their ocean-y goodness to make a rich broth.  I recommend using fire-roasted tomatoes for at least past of the canned tomatoes to add a smoky element.  And if available, a crusty sourdough perfectly completes the meal.

Classic Cioppino  (From the The Sunset Cookbook

  • 1 head fennel (3⁄4 lb.)
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion (1⁄2 lb.), chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
  • 3 cans (14.5 oz. each) diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1⁄3 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. dried basil
  • 1⁄2 tsp. each dried oregano and red chile flakes
  • 1 dozen clams in shell suitable for steaming (discard any that are not closed), well scrubbed
  • 2 cooked Dungeness crabs (about 2 lbs. each), cleaned and cracked
  • 1 lb. large shrimp (21 to 30 per lb.), peeled and deveined
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Trim off and discard tough stalks and base of fennel head. Core and chop bulb.

2. In a 6- to 8-qt. pan over medium-high heat, stir fennel, oil, onion, garlic, and 2 tbsp. parsley until onion is limp, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Add diced tomatoes (with their juice), wine, tomato paste, basil, oregano, and red chile flakes. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until flavors are well blended, about 15 minutes.

4. Add clams and crabs. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes (transfer any opened clams to a bowl and cover to keep warm). Stir in shrimp, cover, and simmer until clams finish popping open, shrimp turn pink, and crab is hot, 6 to 9 minutes longer; remove seafood as it finishes cooking. Discard clams that have not opened.

5. Season cioppino with salt and pepper to taste and ladle into bowls with seafood. Serve sprinkled with remaining 2 tbsp. parsley.

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