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Cioppino | Hands On Gourmet

Serves 8-10 people

Ingredients

For the Cioppino

1 or 2 whole jalapenos, roasted in a 450F oven until soft and blistered.  Skin, seed, and finely chopped.
6 cloves garlic, sliced thin
Small dice all of the following vegetables:
1 large yellow onion
3 shallots
4 celery stalks
2 carrots
1 fennel bulb
1 red bell pepper
2 leeks, white parts only (green tops go in the stock)
Zest of 1 lemon
1 ½ tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp espelette pepper
fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 ½ cup pureed roasted tomatoes
½ bottle dry white wine
Seafood/fish stock
Salt to taste
Chili flakes
Lemon juice
Chopped tarragon, chives, chervil, and/or basil

2 baguettes, split, toasted, buttered and rubbed with garlic

For the Seafood

2-3 lbs PEI black mussels: Scrub thoroughly.  Purge under cool running water for at least 30 minutes.
2 lbs white shrimp: Peel, devein, and rinse bodies.  Save heads & shells for stock.
2 lbs halibut or another clean meaty white fish like snapper or tilapia: Trim into 1.5” thick strips.  Remove any bones or skin.

For the Stock

1 tbsp olive oil
Mire poix (2cups of chopped celery, carrots and onion)
White fish bones (washed really well)
¼ cup Lobster paste (concentrated seafood stock)
1 tsp whole coriander
5 bay leaves
12 black peppercorns
2 whole dried chilies
¼ cup white wine
Optional: soft herbs (tarragon, chervil, chive, etc.)

For the Mussels

1 cup of seafood stock
Splash of white wine
3 thyme sprigs
1 shallot sliced
1 tbsp butter

Special Equipment

Rondeau
Stock pots

Instructions

For the Cioppino

In a large stainless steel pot, heat ¼ cup olive oil over medium-low flame.  Add all the chopped vegetables, garlic, and jalapeno, and a generous amount of salt.  Gently sauté until softened (without browning), about 8 minutes.
Then add lemon zest, smoked paprika, espelette, black pepper, thyme, and oregano.  Stir.
Add tomatoes and turn up flame to medium-high.  Stir often for a few minutes, or until some of the liquid has evaporated.  Adjust heat so the mixture is simmering.
Add wine and continue to simmer for 4 minutes.
Add about 2Q of seafood stock, or enough to make the consistency soupy.  Turn up heat, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer.  Adjust herbs and spices to taste, but leave under-salted at this point.
Add chili flakes if you want it spicier.
Let simmer as long as possible until ready for the final steps.

For the Stock

Using a medium-sized stock pot, heat olive oil over a medium-high flame.  Sauté the mire poix until soft.  Add coriander, bay, peppercorns, chilies, and any vegetable scraps (especially leek tops & parsley stems) Add white wine and reduce.
Add water to cover by about 3 inches and bring to a simmer – add ¼ cup of seafood paste and fish bones
* Skim frequently.
After 30 minutes, turn off heat & add any soft herbs.  Let settle for 5-10 minutes, then using a ladle or small sauce pot, gently scoop out the stock and strain through a cheesecloth-lined mesh sieve.
* Don’t tip over the pot and just dump out the stock or you’ll get sediment in your final product.

For the Mussels

Using a wide rondeau with a tight fitting lid, bring above ingredients to a boil.
Add mussels and reduce flame to medium, cover with lid.  Check after 2 minutes and stir.  Replace cover and continue to steam.  Keep checking and stirring every minute or so until popped open, about 4 or 5 minutes total.
Keep covered off heat until ready to plate, but don’t let overcook.  Don’t serve any that remain tightly shut.
While the mussels are steaming, season halibut and fold into the simmering cioppino, stirring gently to keep pieces intact.  Season and fold in shrimp after a couple minutes, or when the halibut has turned opaque, but is still raw.  Use your best judgment to finish cooking them at the same time.
Finish the cioppino with lemon juice to taste.  Adjust seasoning one last time.  Add chopped tarragon, chives, chervil, and/or basil as desired.
Consistency should be like a thin stew – not watery, not too thick.  It should be a little spicy.  Make sure the shrimp & halibut are just about cooked through when serving.

To Serve

Place cooked mussels in bowls; ladle hot Cioppino over the top.  Garnish with chopped parsley.  Drizzle with olive oil.

Serve immediately with split, toasted, buttered baguette rubbed with garlic.

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1 tbsp olive oil

Mire poix (2cups of chopped celery, carrots and onion)

White fish bones (washed really well)

¼ cup Lobster paste (concentrated seafood stock)

1 tsp whole coriander

5 bay leaves

12 black peppercorns

2 whole dried chilies

¼ cup white wine

Optional: soft herbs (tarragon, chervil, chive, etc.)