BUCKTOWN “PINCH ME” STEW WITH RED SNAPPER

  • Prep Time
    1 hour
  • Cook Time
    3 hours
  • Serving
    6
  • View
    39

 

People in Louisiana are crazy for crawfish.  And as anyone in New Orleans knows, you have to pinch the tails and suck the heads of boiled crawfish to get that sweet nugget of meat and the juice that goes with it. This is a crawfish stew with a poached red snapper on top, inspired by the Mediterranean bouillabaisse, but different in that its ingredients are the kind of fish you will find in the Bucktown seafood shops on Lake Avenue. I went to Schaeffer’s Seafood on a sunny Jazz Fest Saturday and found the most gorgeous red snapper filets and boiled crawfish and crabs.  Forget about the restrictions of bouillabaisse which has to be made with very specific kinds of fish.  Use what you have access to — the important thing is the quality of the fish and shellfish.  Not surprisingly, while I was in Schaeffer’s I heard people talking about how far they drove to get there.  I’m not a huge lover of boiled crawfish but theirs were delicious.  I have to admit that the amount of crawfish tails that wound up in my stew was scant because I kept popping them in my mouth while peeling them.  The little tails were really amazing dipped in my homemade Thousand Island dressing.

Ingredients

BOILED CRAWFISH, FISH AND CRAB STOCK

The Stew

The Poached Fish

Garlic Bread Croutons

    Directions

    Make a seafood stock. Strain. Season. Poach the fish in the seasoned stock. That's the simplified version of this seafood stew. Serve it over garlic croutons and enjoy with a cold beer or minerally-acidic white wine.

    Step 1

    Swirl some olive oil in the bottom of a very large Dutch oven. Over medium high heat, saute chopped onion, leek, carrot, celery and fennel. Cook until you have a little color on the vegetables and they're soft.

    Step 2

    Add the white wine and cook off the alcohol. Sitr often.

    Step 3

    Peel as many of the crawfish as you want to put in the stew when it is cooked. Set the crawfish tail meat aside in the frig.

    Step 4

    Add the boiled crabs and crawfish shells to the Dutch oven. Add a head of roasted garlic, squeezed from the pods. You can also add the lemon and garlic that came with the boiled crabs. Stir and cook for a few minutes.

    Step 5

    Add the fish stock and 2 quarts of water to the Dutch oven. Stir. SIMMER.

    Step 6

    Add at least 2 really big fish filets to the Dutch oven. Reduce heat and keep this at a low simmer. Now, keep in mind that the boiled crabs and crawfish shells are spicy because they were boiled in seafood boil at the Bucktown seafood store where you bought them. So, if your stock tastes too spicy, remove the shellfish and keep simmering the fish and vegetables and broth. Salt to taste.

    Step 7

    WHILE THE STOCK IS SIMMERING: Make your garlic toast. Slice some really good Italian bread with sesame seeds. Soften butter over low heat with roasted garlic and spread the butter on the bread. Toast at 375 degrees until golden brown. Set aside. These will go in the bottom of the soup bowl.

    Step 8

    STRAIN THE STOCK and return the liquid back to the Dutch oven.

    Step 9

    Add the canned tomatoes, a tablespoon of Sambuca and a few crushed strands of saffron.

    Step 10

    Add the following to taste: roasted garlic (squeezed from the pods), Heinz chili sauce, more Sambuca and more saffron. Go easy on the chili sauce and be careful with the Sambuca. Salt and pepper to taste. You can finish with a little of the softened roasted garlic-butter you slathered on the bread.

    Step 11

    When you are ready to eat, poach the fish. Place the filet in the pot and let it gently simmer. Watch it! You don't want to overcook this beautiful piece of fish. This could take 10 minutes or so. It depends on the level of heat and the thickness of the fish. ADD THE CRAWFISH TAILS AT THE END JUST TO HEAT THEM THROUGH. Remember they are already cooked.

    Step 12

    To serve: Place bread in the bottom of the bowl.

    Step 13

    Ladle the seafood stock over the bread.

    Step 14

    Place the red snapper filet on top of the stew. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and minced fennel fronds.

    Step 15

    Grate some lemon peel over the top of the stew.

    Conclusion

    I poured the same Sancerre I used to deglaze the vegetables at the beginning of the recipe. It had enough acidity to balance the spicy stew... a Rose might be nice also... or even a very cold beer! The bread will soak up the stew and the poached red snapper will be the most tender perfect piece of fish you've ever eaten. Enjoy.

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