December 7, 2009

To Warm the Cockles of Your Heart

Last night’s dinner was pure California winter comfort food, a big bowl of Cioppino to drive away the damp chill. I try to make it at least once when crab is in season, mostly because it’s a shame to not take advantage of the ocean’s bounty.

The first time I ever had cioppino, in fact, the first I’d ever heard of it, was in my early twenties. My first clue it was a messy dish was the bib the waiter tied around my neck before he set my meal in front of me. I haven’t eaten cioppino in public since. It’s a meal to be shared at home with people who won’t mind that you’ve got sauce on your hands and who expect you to mop up the last few bites with a hunk of sourdough bread.

This is my tried and true recipe. It’s open to adjustment and is always a little different depending on how spicy I want it to be, whether I use tomatoes with herbs already added, and what seafood looks good at the store.

Cioppino Sauce

2 – 4 shallots, finely chopped
2 – 4 garlic cloves, minced
Red wine (1 cup)
2 cans crushed tomatoes
1 bottle clam juice
Fresh parsley, finely chopped (1/2 bunch)
Thyme, Oregano, Red pepper flakes (to taste)

Sauté shallots and garlic in olive oil. Add red wine & reduce. Add crushed tomatoes, clam juice, parsley, thyme, oregano,  red pepper fllakes, and simmer. (I simmered mine for almost two hours, partially covered.) Add seafood.

I used Dungeness crab, scallops, shrimp, mussels, and clams, adding them the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Light candles, pour good red wine, and dig in.


Bella Rum said...

Oh, boy, oh, boy, oh, boy!

My mouth is watering, and I happen to have a main line to some really great seafood - through my brother. I would have to use blue crab, of course. Scallops. Oh, he gets the most beautiful scallops and shrimp and clams. I love mussels, but I'd probably have to buy them. My husband would love this.

Christine said...

This looks so good! Yummy!

Bella Rum said...

I have to tell you that I just showed this to my husband. I was trying to read it to him, and I literally started drooling. Now, of course, he wants me to make it.

Amber said...

Looks beautiful! Love the pics. i need to eat me some crab...I haven't had any yet.


Becca said...

Wow, this looks good! This is one of my daughter in law's favorite dishes, so I have to try it. (She's kind of fussy, so I need recipes she'll eat!)

Thanks :)

Vanessa said...

wow, my mouth is watering! this looks so good. thanks for sharing. j and i love this kind of dish. bliss, indeed.

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