Seafood Stew Romagna (Brodetto)
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 large onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 3-inch strips lemon zest
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 2/3 cups peeled, seeded and chopped fresh tomatoes (see note), or 2 2/3 cups canned tomatoes with their juice
4 cups dry white wine
3 1/2 pounds combined filleted fresh fish, cut into bite-size pieces (such as bluefish, flounder, sea trout, rockfish, cod or shark) and shellfish (such as squid, cuttlefish, small clams and shrimp)
In a heavy 6- to 8-quart pot, bring the vinegar to a lively bubble over high heat. Add the onions, turn the heat to low and partially cover the pot. Cook 15 minutes, or until the onions are soft and almost translucent. Stir occasionally. If the liquid threatens to evaporate totally, add about 1/4 cup water.
Once the onions are soft and rosy-colored, uncover the pot and let the vinegar bubble gently, stirring frequently, until it evaporates. Add the oil, a little salt and a generous sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper. Slowly saute over medium-low heat, uncovered, 10 minutes, or until the onions turn golden. Stir frequently.
With the heat still at medium-low, stir in the lemon zest and garlic, and cook about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, raise the heat to high, and boil, uncovered, 5 minutes, or until thick. Pour in the wine and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil over high heat 5 minutes, or until the mixture is reduced by about one-third and no raw alcohol taste is left from the wine. The flavors should be slightly sweet from the tomato and onion, with a tart backdrop. Taste for seasoning.
Have soup dishes warming in a low oven. Use a tureen if available. If necessary, bring the Brodetto to a gentle bubble over medium to medium-high heat. If you are using squid or cuttlefish, cook it at a very gentle bubble about 20 minutes, or until tender, before adding the remaining seafood.
Layer the firm-fleshed fish in the pot, topping it with the thinner, flakier fillets. Scatter the shrimp and clams on top of the fish. Using the back of a wooden spatula, gently press the fish into the sauce. Bring the liquid to a slow bubble. Cover, and cook 5 to 10 minutes, or until thickest pieces are firm and opaque to their centers. Discard shellfish that do not open. Ladle the Brodetto into the heated soup plates or tureen, and serve.
Note: To peel tomatoes, plunge into boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove immediately and plunge into cold water. Skin should slip off easily.
Makes 8 servings.
— From “The Splendid Table,” by Lynne Rossetto Kasper