Saturday, September 22, 2012

Rosie Makes A Fine Kettle O' Fish - Cioppino.

 I'm making Cioppino today,
which is an Italian/American fish stew
developed by immigrants in the San Francisco area
in the mid 1800s.
The story goes that the fishermen would gather
after their day's work was done and each man
would throw different pieces of fish into a
communal pot for supper.
In broken English,
they would call out to each other,
"Chip in,"
and this became the root for the word Ciopinno -
Chip - eee- no.

While that's a nice little story,
I think that the name is based on
the Ligurian ciuppin
which means nearly any sort of fish or seafood zuppa.

Liguria is a coastal region of north-western Italy
and seafood is a major staple of Ligurian cuisine.
Liguria is also where pesto originally came from,
so I genuflect to ever-resourceful Ligurians everywhere,
I thank you from the bottom of my hungry heart.

First, let me tell you my inspiration for this dish.
I had leftover anchovies
from a Caesar Salad Mr. Hawthorne
had recently made
for XKT's belated birthday dinner.
So, you can consider this Ciopinno dish
as Moreover Anchovies!

Imagine yourself being on an episode of Chopped.
You open your basket,
stare blankly into it,
and see an already-opened can of anchovies.
You have leftover anchovies.
What to do?
What to do?

Rosie's gonna tell you.

And please,
let me see a show of hands of all of you that
have leftover tins of anchovies in your fridge.

Some of my ingredients:
(That's Extra Light Bertolli Olive Oil)
 3 anchovies
6 garlic cloves
1 onion
2 ribs celery
2 carrots
1 can chicken broth
2-3 cups white wine 
 (We used Chardonnay.)
1 - 35 ounce can crushed tomatoes
 1 teaspoon hot cayenne flakes
handful of parsley
handful of variegated lemon thyme
some regular thyme
4 fresh bay leaves
(Less if using dried.)

Pretend the ELBOO, celery, and carrots are up there
and take away the salt and pepper.
I used neither.
The anchovies are salty enough.
As always, taste test for yourself.

As for the piscine elements,
we're using 1/2 pound of shrimp,
1 tile fish filet,
12 Little Neck clams,
and a package of about 15-20 raw mussels.

 For the shrimp,
Mr. Hawthorne scissored down the back of the shell,
from head to tail.
 You can then easily peel off the shell.

 When cutting down the back,
cut deep enough so that the vein is removed
along with the shell.
Lots of times I'll use a paper towel
to remove the veins.
Veins stick to towel.

 Three anchovies into hot oil.

 Add in a teaspoon of hot cayenne pepper flakes.
Or maybe more.
I grew these peppers a few years ago,
dried them,
and I'm still using the seeds.
I like that the flakes range in size from seeds to little bits.

  The anchovies sort of dissolve and 
break up into nutty little pieces.
Not fishy.
Trust Rosie.

 Garlic in.

 Bay leaves.

 Stir and scrape.

 Add in celery.

 Add onions.

 Keep stirring until onions become translucent.

 Add in a cup or so of Chardonnay.

 Add in a can of chicken broth.

 I picked some lemon thyme and regular thyme and parsley.

 Add herbs to the mix.

  I tied the thyme with kitchen string
so I can pull it out later before serving.

 I added in the crushed tomatoes.
 Looking and smelling really good.
I let this slow simmer over very low
for about 20 minutes while I baked the bread.

 Mr. Hawthorne cut the tile fish into chunks.

 Mussels and clams are ready.

 Tile fish in.
Simmer 5 minutes.
Do not stir.
You don't want to break up the fish.
Merely give the pot a shake every now and then.

 After five minutes,
add in the shrimp ...
 ...  the clams  ...

 ...  and the mussels.

Not stirred.
Bare simmer for about 10 minutes.
Give it a shake now and again.
No stirree.

 While I was slow-simmering the Cioppino
before adding in the fish,
I baked a loaf of Scwhann's Baguettes.
I heartily recommend keeping these frozen loaves on hand.
They have so many uses.
Terrific for a quick bruschetta,
onto which you can put anything at all.
 This a fine bowl of Cioppino.

 This is so satisfying.

 This is the importance of the baguette.
The last soak.
It is a requirement.

One must sop up every last bit of the seafood stew.
This is key.
Sop and savor every bit of this goodness.

If you want to learn more fascinating information
about cioppino,
please check out my September column

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