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Cioppino – Seafood Stew

13 Feb

Happy Valentines Day tomorrow!  I meant to give you this succulent Cioppino earlier in case you were looking for a special dinner inspiration, but better now than never.  You’ll want to save this recipe for your seafood-loving friends and family; they’ll be hard pressed to find a dinner as enjoyable as this intensely mouthwatering seafood stew.  Your peeps will adore you for cooking up this Cioppino for any special dinner.

Cioppino 1

I’ve been a seafood fan all my life.  My parents are adept at dishing up delicious sea fare, and living near the ocean most of my life sure didn’t hurt our fresh seafood consumption.  If you enjoy seafood, you already know there are very few things that parallel the awesomeness of a deeply satisfying bowl of good Cioppino.

Cioppino

We were previously under the assumption that Cioppino originated in Italy, which I gather is a common assumption.  In reality, Cioppino is considered Italian-American, as it was originated in good ol’ San Fransisco.  Cioppino is a concoction that resulted from fishermen combining their catches, creating a hearty stew with whatever good stuff was in their boats.  Catch-of-the-day stew.

Cioppino 4

I personally am supremely thankful for those fishermen who helped propel this wonderfully hearty, satisfying, and healthy stew.  It’s the perfect solution for cold weather dinners, and scrumptiously satisfying with crusty bread.  The bread is a must-have, for soaking up every drop of the light yet full-flavored broth that’s way too delectable to be wasted.

Cioppino 2

I’ve eaten Cioppino in many places, and it’s always made a little differently, depending on where you get it at.  Typically, there is a variety of shelled seafood (clams, mussels, shrimp, crab, etc.) combined with chunks of firm fish.  All swimming in an indescribably delicious warm broth.  If you can’t get certain shellfish but can get a hold of others, just sub with what is available to you.  Keep the shells on for cooking, as that is what lends the broth its amazing flavor.

Make it a date for two, or a dinner for eight.  My fave part – this phenomenal broth can be made the day before, and just add seafood the day of.  Enjoy!

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RECIPE (about 6 servings)

INGREDIENTS

2 medium onions, finely chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 dried bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp table salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup light olive oil
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper, seeded and diced
2 TB tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 can (28-32 oz) can whole plum tomatoes, drained and chopped.  Juices reserved.
1 cup bottled clam juice
1 cup chicken or fish broth
2 TB white sugar
20 hard shelled clams
20 shelled mussels
1 lb firm fish (ie., halibut, snapper, or salmon)
1 lb very large shrimp (16-20 count-size), deveined, shell-on
1 lb large sea scallops, muscles removed from side if attached
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, freshly chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, freshly chopped
Crusty bread for serving


DIRECTIONS

Place first seven ingredients in a large heavy pot or dutch oven over moderate heat.  Cook until onions are soft, 5 min.  Stir in celery, bell pepper, and tomato paste, cooking 1 min.  Add wine and boil until reduced by about half, 5-6 min.  Stir in tomatoes, their juices, claim juice, broth, and sugar.  Simmer covered 30 min.  Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

(At this point, broth may be cooled and placed in fridge overnight.  When ready to serve, just bring broth back to simmer and continue with recipe.)

If ready to serve:  Bring stew to simmer.  Add clams and mussels until shells just open, checking every minute and transferring opened clams/mussels to a separate bowl with tongs immediately when they open.  Remaining unopened shellfish should be tossed out.  Lightly season fish fillets, shrimp, and scallops with salt/pepper.  Add them to the stew and simmer covered 3 minutes or just until shrimp turns opaque.  If shrimp turns opaque before the fish is done, remove shrimp to prevent overcooking.

Turn off heat and leave uncovered.  Discard bay leaves.  Return all cooked shellfish back into the stew.  Add parsley.  Serve warm stew in bowls, garnishing with fresh basil.  Serve with crusty bread.

By:  Chew Out Loud, adapted by Gourmet

Wine Pairing:  A good quality dry Sauvignon Blanc or crisp Rose will go beautifully here.

Notes:  Feel free to use whatever fresh/good quality seafood is available to you.  Many people like to include crab legs.  The most important thing is not to overcook the seafood.  If I have any leftovers, sometimes I pour it over al dente pasta the next day… amazing.

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French Beef Stew (Boeuf Bourguignon)

7 Feb

Don’t let the Boeuf fool you.  Boeuf Bourguignon became a household term after Julie and Julia in 2009.  Despite sounding delicious, the dish got a bit of a fussy reputation.  Admittedly, upon initial glance at the multi-step instructions, I almost felt a stumble in my stride.  To go forth or not?

Boeuf Bourguignon French beef stew

Ultimately, curiosity took over and Mr. Boeuf lost his intimidation factor.  Victory!  That was well over a year ago.  This succulent dish has since become one of my favorite entrees.  Whether we’re having dinner guests or craving something special for the fam, this French Beef Stew is consistently a no-fail crowd pleaser.  After all, ultimately it’s just a good beef stew.  Taken up a notch.

Boeuf Bourguignon French beef stew 2

The bit that takes some pre-planning is the browning of individual cubes of beef.   You’ll have to wear an apron, but the complex flavors are so worth it.  Browned chunks of beef are cooked down in red wine and savory broth, adorned with mushrooms and pearl onions.  Flavorful herbs are slow cooked in the broth. The result is the most tender, savory, richly flavorful beef stew ever experienced.

Hint:  Make this stew the night before and simply reheat when ready to seve.  Relax on the day of your dinner party…how great is that?!  Plus, the flavors in the stew infuse even further with time.  Indescribably delish.

Boeuf Bourguignon French beef stew 3

Serve up your boeuf Bourguignon with a rustic, crusty bread or egg noodles or carb of choice.  You really can’t go wrong here.  Break out a bottle of a  plush, fruit-forward Pinot Noir for a phenomenal pairing.

Seriously, make this for your next dinner party.  Or date night.  Valentines Day.  Family weekend.  Your loved ones will be singing your praises.  Enjoy! 🙂

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RECIPE (6 servings)

INGREDIENTS

Light olive oil or peanut oil
12 oz thick applewood smoked bacon, diced
3 lbs chuck beef, trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into chunks or coins
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
10 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 cup Cognac
2 cups good Pinot Noir (or other good quality dry red)
2 1/2 – 3 cups low sodium beef broth
2 TB tomato paste
1 tsp dried thyme
4 TB room temp butter
3 TB flour
1 lb frozen pearl onions, whole
1 lb fresh button or cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
3 bay leaves
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
chopped fresh parsley for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Heat 2 TB oil in large Dutch oven (or heavy, oven-safe pot with tight fitting lid.)  Add bacon and cook over medium until evenly and lightly browned throughout.  Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon to a large plate.  Remaining oil and grease should stay in the pot.

Using paper towels, thoroughly dry uncooked beef and sprinkle the cubes evenly with a thin layer of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.  Reheat the oil/bacon grease in the Dutch oven and sear the beef cubes in a single layer, working in batches, until each cube is brown on all sides.  Do not over crowd the pan, making sure to leave some space between each piece of beef.  Add more oil as needed to finish browning.  Set beef aside in plate with the bacon.

If needed, add 2 TB to pot and heat oil.  Add carrots, onions, garlic, 1 TB kosher salt, 2 tsp black pepper and saute for 5 minutes until onions are lightly browned.  Deglaze bottom of pot, adding 1 TB oil as needed.  Add Cognac and cook another 10 minutes on medium.

Add beef and bacon back into Dutch oven with their juices.  Add the wine and enough beef broth to almost cover all the meat.  Add tomato paste, thyme, and bay leaves.  Bring to simmer, stirring occasionally.  Once liquid is reaches a simmer, cover the pot with tight fitting lid and place in oven for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until meat is very tender when pierced with fork.

Meanwhile, mix together 2 TB butter with 3 TB flour in small bowl and set aside.  Saute mushrooms with 2 TB butter in skillet just until mushrooms start to become soft.

Remove stew from oven.  Add the butter/flour mixture, frozen pearl onions, and mushrooms to the stew.  Bring to a boil on stovetop and immediately reduce to simmer.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Skim off any fat off the top.  Remove bay leaves.  Season with additional kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste.

Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with crusty bread or egg noodles.

Source:  Chew Out Loud (adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Ina Garten)

Note:  If not serving immediately, let the stew cool to room temp and store in fridge.  Just before serving, bring stew to a simmer.  Cover and simmer 15 min, basting with its own sauce a few times while simmering.

Wine Pairing:  A good quality red, similar to the one you used in the recipe.  A jammy Pinot Noir recommended.

Hearty White Chicken Chili

2 Feb

I might have a new addiction to hearty foods.  I recently gave you two of our favorites: Hearty, Chunky Chili and Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup.  Maybe it’s the winter; around our neck of the freezing woods, hearty dishes are more than a mild craving.  Not to mention all the game-day celebrations, which call out for eats that would satisfy a crowd of ravenous guys.  And gals 🙂

White Chicken Chili

So, yeah, I’ll go ahead and add another one to the hearty list.  This white chicken chili hits the spot.  When the weather is cold, I love having my slow cooker filled to the brim with this goodness.

White Chicken Chili 3

Hearty white chicken chili is all that its name suggests… and more.  Chunky bites of tender white chicken, soft white beans, and sweet corn for texture.  All bathed in a mouth-watering broth.  Perfect if a chewy loaf of rustic bread  were to show up alongside of it.  Or bust out these easy sweet corn muffins…sooo YUM.

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I’ve tried various white chicken chili recipes, but always return to this one as my go-to fave.  They all taste yummy, but my laziness brings me back to this great recipe, because it’s super e-a-s-y.  As in, you don’t have to cook the chicken meat separately first.  Yep, it’s true.  Just throw all the goodness into one big slow cooker and let it go.  Just let it go.  Dinnertime 🙂

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RECIPE (10-12 servings)

INGREDIENTS

4 lbs uncooked skinless, boneless chicken breast tenders, cut into chunks
3 (15 oz each) cans Northern beans, drained
2 (10.5 oz each) cans condensed cream of chicken soup
2 (15 oz each) cans corn
2 cups chicken broth
4 small onions, chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
4 tsp oregano
2 1/2  tsp cumin
1 tsp Tobasco sauce
6 TB flour
salt and pepper to taste
Shredded cheddar for garnish, optional

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients (except salt/pepper) into large slow cooker.  Mix well to incorporate.  Cover and cook on low for about 4 hours or until chicken is no longer pink and onions are soft.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Turn slow cooker to “warm” setting, and keep warm until ready to serve.  If desired, garnish with shredded cheddar.  Serve with bread, chips, or corn muffins.

Source:  Chew Out Loud (adapted from an old recipe by my sweet friend Ashley)

Notes:  If you want to thicken your chili further after cooking, mix in 1 TB of flour at a time until desired thickness is achieved and let it cook another 30 min or so.  If you want to thin it out, simply add more chicken broth until desired consistency.

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