EXECUTIVE CHEF Jim Oppat of the Andiamo Restaurant Group took on new responsibilities when the company partnered with Joe Muer to revive the former seafood establishment in the Renaissance Center space that formerly housed Seldom Blues. Oppat blended Muer classics with his own contemporary approach in writing the menu. This recipe is included in Joe Muer’s Classics, the cookbook just published by Andiamo. It’s one of what Oppat calls “new classics.”
Ciopino alla Calabrese
1/2 cup bacon or pancetta, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-1/2 cup diced onions
2 cups roasted red peppers, diced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup scallions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground caraway
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bay leaf
2 cups white wine
2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups fish or chicken stock
2 cups shrimp (tail on, 16-20 count size)
1 pound firm-fleshed fish, diced (bass, grouper, snapper, perch, haddock, or sturgeon)
8 clams (littleneck or topneck)
8 mussels (fresh black)
1 cup scallops
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté bacon in a little olive oil. Start at very low heat to render the fat and flavor to season the pot, then increase heat to crisp the bacon.
Sauté vegetables in the seasoned pot until just al dente, along with the spices and bay leaf. Increase heat and add the tomato paste; sauté briefly to caramelize.
Add wine and deglaze the pan to stop the caramelizing.
Add the tomatoes and stock, then bring to a simmer. Ideal cooking temperature would be about 160-170 degrees for poaching the seafood in the stew. This will ensure a low, slow cook, for a succulent and tender result.
Add clams and mussels. Cook for about 3 minutes.
Add the fish, shrimp, and scallops. Cook for an additional 3 minutes. Shrimp should be split along the backside and deveined before adding to the stew. Scallops should have the small, discolored tab removed from the side of the muscle where it attaches to the shell. All finfish should be skinned and free from bones.
Season with lemon juice and salt and pepper. Serve with garlic toast.
Chef’s note: I often elect to serve it right off the stove and onto the table and allow the guests to serve themselves. Just provide everyone with a large rimmed bowl, fork, knife, cocktail fork, crab crackers, bouillon spoon, crisp garlic toast, and chilled white wine.