New England brodetto

August 12, 2009

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Serves 4

Ingredients are added in layers so the flavors build on each other. Experiment with other seafood such as squid or swordfish. Saffron gives the dish a beautiful golden hue and velvety texture. You don’t need more than a pinch (or the dish will taste medicinal).

1 pound littleneck clams
1 pound fresh mussels
1 pound skinless boneless halibut or other sturdy white fish such as monkfish or striped bass
1 teaspoon saffron threads
2 tablespoons hot water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 large onion, thinly sliced
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 cup fresh or bottled fish broth
4 thick slices crusty bread, toasted or grilled until golden
1. Discard any cracked clams and mussels. Tap the open ones on the counter. If they do not close right away discard them. Wash and scrub the remaining shellfish under cold water. Cut the halibut, monkfish, or striped bass into 2-inch pieces.

2. In a small bowl, combine the saffron threads and water; set aside.

3. In a soup pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the parsley, garlic, and red pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the onion and salt. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until they soften.

4. Add the vinegar and wine and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the saffron threads. Add the tomatoes, fish broth, salt, and black pepper. Cover the pot and simmer 10 minutes.

5. Add the clams, re-cover the pot, and cook for 5 minutes or until they start to open.

6. Add the halibut, monkfish, or striped bass and mussels. Cover and cook 3 to 5 minutes or until the mussels open and the fish is cooked through. Taste the liquid for seasoning and add more salt or red pepper, if you like.

7. Arrange the bread in each of 4 deep bowls. Ladle the brodetto on top. Adapted from Cindy Salvato