Thursday, March 6, 2014

Spicy Cioppino (Seafood Stew)

Everyone knows by now that we had to cancel our recent trip to San Francisco. For my final attempt to make up for this disappointment (that can be blamed on the weather), I brought San Francisco to him (and his belly).

We have always enjoyed watching the Oscars, trying to guess the winners of all the movies (most of which we have not seen). We like star-gazing and laughing at Ellens tasteful jokes! I wanted to come up with a fancy meal to enjoy while we watched the Oscars, but what to make??

Spicy Cioppino (Seafood Stew) |

I was perusing the seafood counter in Whole Foods, trying to decide between scallops, shrimp, fish, clams....when it hit me! Why not all of them?!?! I had the perfect recipe tucked away that needed one more test run before becoming blog-worthy, Cioppino.

Cioppino is a fish stew that originated in San Francisco. It usually combines the fresh catch of the day with a tomato-wine sauce. How perfect! A San Francisco-inspired meal full of some of our favorite ingredients (crab, wine, garlic).

Spicy Cioppino (Seafood Stew) |

I will admit, this is not the cheapest dish to make, so we only bust out for special occasions, and ONLY when there is worthy seafood for the recipe. This recipe is most fun when it is just the two of us, especially when crab legs are involved! It can get a bit messy when you are trying to crack crab legs and open clams in a red broth!

Spicy Cioppino (Seafood Stew) |

A few tips for this recipe:
1. Definitely prep all the ingredients prior to starting the cooking process. This recipe cooks quickly in the beginning and at the end.
2. If you are making for 2 people, make the same amount of the broth, but cut down on the seafood. I find that seafood doesn't make a good leftover meal. For instance, when I made this on Sunday, I bought two small crab clusters, 8 shrimp, 4 scallops and 10 clams. Even that was too much for our large appetite!
3. Any type of seafood can be used here. If you don't like mussels, try clams. Not a huge shrimp fan, try squid or a sturdy fish. If you are making this for a dinner party, cut out the crab so it is not as messy to eat.
4. Don't wear a white shirt when you eat this!

I should also add that the long list of ingredients shouldn't turn you away from this recipe. It really is quite easy - mostly just adding everything into one big pot. Stash this recipe away for a special meal to impress your loved one.

Another option is to make the "stew" part ahead of time (everything but the seafood). Just reheat it in a large enough pot and cook the seafood right before you are ready to serve it.

Spicy Cioppino (Seafood Stew) |

Spicy Cioppino

Yields: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry red wine (such as a Rioja or Chianti)
1 (28 ounce) can whole plum tomatoes and juice, chopped
1 (8 ounce) bottle clam juice (about 1 cup)
1 cup chicken broth (vegetable broth works also)
salt and pepper to taste

1 pound Dungeness crab leg or cluster, thawed if frozen (might need to cut if pot is smaller)
1 pound mussels or clams (scrubbed and de-bearded)
1 pound large shrimp (16-20 count), shelled and deveined
1 pound sea scallops, tough muscle removed from side of each if necessary
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

Serve with:
Sourdough bread slices
Roasted garlic
Parmesan cheese, shredded

Start by chopping the fennel, onion and celery to the same size pieces. In a small bowl combine the oregano, thyme, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat the butter and oil in a large heavy pot or dutch oven. Saute the onion, fennel and celery until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the spice mixture. After about 30 seconds, add in the tomato paste and stir until well combined.

Pour in the wine and bring this to a boil and reduce by about half, while stirring occasionally. Add in the broth, clam juice, chopped tomatoes and their juice and the bay leaf. Bring this to a simmer, cover and cook for 35-40 minutes.

While the broth cooks, pull out the seafood and prep anything (peel and devein the shrimp, clean the mussels, cut the crab clusters, etc.). When the broth is finish, taste and add salt and pepper accordingly. Prep any side dishes or set the table at this point before adding in the seafood!

Add the crab and mussels (or clams) in the pot first, pushing them into the broth so they are covered. Cover the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes, then add in the scallops. Cover and cook another 2 minutes. Finally, throw in the shrimp, cover and cook another 1-2 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley and shredded Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Spicy Cioppino (Seafood Stew) |

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