Italian Shellfish Stew
Italian Americans make lavish seafood stews similar to this one for Christmas Eve dinner, just as their ancestors did in Italy. This particular recipe is adapted from cacciucco, a combination of seafood cooked with tomatoes and wine popular along the Tuscan coast, especially in the port city of Livorno. Although the list of ingredients looks relatively long, the dish can be assembled and cooked within an hour. Mussels, well scrubbed and debearded, may be substituted for the clams, and cod fillet for the monkfish.
- 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced, plus 2 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
- 8 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeded and diced
- 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 3/4 lb. cleaned squid, tentacles trimmed, bodies cut into 1/2-inch rings
- 3/4 lb. monkfish fillet, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 1/2 lb. sea scallops, side muscle removed and scallops halved horizontally
- 1/4 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 12 littleneck clams, well scrubbed
- 4 coarse country bread slices, each about 1 inch thick, toasted
- Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish
In a large Dutch oven or other deep, heavy pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and minced garlic and sauté until the onion is soft, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and red pepper flakes and sauté until the tomatoes soften, about 5 minutes. Pour in the tomato sauce and wine, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the squid, re-cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the monkfish, scallops and shrimp; re-cover and cook until the shrimp and scallops are opaque throughout but still tender, about 10 minutes. Add the clams, discarding any that do not close to the touch, cover and cook just until they open, 4 to 5 minutes. Discard any clams that failed to open.
Rub each bread slice generously on one side with a garlic clove half. Place each slice, garlic side up, in a warmed wide, shallow soup bowl. Ladle the stew over the bread, dividing the fish and shellfish evenly. Garnish with the parsley and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2003).