Southern-Style Seafood Stew
Chris Hastings’ Alabama Bouillabaisse
For the Seafood Broth
- 12 head-on large hoppers (or large pink shrimp)
- 12 snapper jowls
- 6 long, thin strips of orange peel, white pith removed
- 1 small leek, cut in half and sliced into 1/2-inch thick pieces
- 2 small carrots, peeled and roughly chopped (about 11/2 cups)
- 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
- 4 Roma tomatoes, crushed
- 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 cups roughly chopped fennel fronds
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 bay leaves
- 12 long basil stems, leaves removed
- 2 quarts Vegetable Stock
- 2 teaspoons toasted and ground Spanish saffron
For the Bouillabaisse
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup minced shallots, about 3 shallots
- 3 tablespoon finely chopped garlic, about 4 large cloves
- 8 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 cups cored and thinly sliced fennel bulbs, about 1 bulb
- 2 cups peeled and thinly sliced carrots, about 2 small carrots
- 2 cups trimmed and diced celery stalks, about 1/4-inch thick slices
- 2 cups halved and sliced leeks, about 1/2-inch thick pieces
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 long, thin strips orange peel, white pith removed
- 12 littleneck clams, scrubbed
- 6 Roma tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and quartered
- 12 (1-ounce) pieces black grouper fillet
- 4 large stone crab claws, cracked (optional)
- 6 (2-ounce) pieces of bone-in triggerfish
- 2 tablespoons minced fennel fronds
- 1 cup finely chopped basil leaves
- 1 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 6 Fried Soft Shell Crabs (optional)
- 12 slices grilled sourdough
Prepare the Seafood Broth
Peel the shrimp, leaving the heads and last tail segment intact. Set the shrimp aside to use for the bouillabaisse and reserve the shells.
Combine the shrimp shells, and 6 small strips of orange zest and the next 10 ingredients (leek through vegetable stock) in a large, stainless steel saucepan. Bring the broth to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low and simmer the stock for 40 minutes. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the solids. Stir in the saffron and set the broth aside until ready to use.
Prepare the Bouillabaisse
Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and 6 tablespoons of the extra-virgin olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed stainless steel pan over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, and thyme and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes; do not allow the vegetables to brown. Stir in the sliced fennel, carrots, celery, and leeks. Season the vegetables with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Add the bay leaves and orange peels and continue cooking for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Add the clams and tomato quarters, cover, and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the reserved seafood broth, increase the heat to high, cover and cook for 3 more minutes. Stir in the shrimp, grouper pieces, stone crab claws (if using) snapper jowls and bone-in triggerfish, cover and cook for a few minutes.
Remove the lid and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, remaining 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, chopped fennel fronds, basil, and parsley. Season the liquid with the remaining teaspoon of salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.
Arrange the seafood and vegetables attractively in 12 wide soup bowls and ladle about 1/2 cup of the broth in each bowl (enough to come three-fourths of the way up the sides of the bowls.) Top each bowl with 1/2 fried soft shell crab (if using) and 1 grilled sourdough crouton smeared with several tablespoons of rouille. Serve immediately.