If you live in El Paso or have lived in El Paso, you know the Franklin Canal carries irrigation water from the Rio Grande to thousands of acres of farmland in the lower valley. The drought of the last several years has greatly reduced the volume of water available from the river. I would not think of cooking anything that swam in the canal, so when the urge strikes, I head to the seafood counter or freezer section of my neighborhood supermarket.
Sometime ago, my blogging friend, Darryl, described feasting on cioppino in San Francisco’s oldest restaurant, the Old Clam House. He kindly shared a family recipe for this Portuguese/Italian seafood stew. I’d been craving it for days since reading his post.
No recipe in hand, here’s what I did: I sweated about 1/2 medium chopped onion in butter and as it was done, bloomed two cloves of minced garlic. Next, I added a can of Italian herbed (garlic, basil and oregano) tomatoes and a can of tomato paste., a cup of water, a cup for chicken broth and about a cup and 1/2 chardonay. I added a teaspoon of dried thyme because I like the flavor. This all simmered for about 30 minutes to marry the flavors. Test tasting along the way made sure all was balanced.
When I was happy with the broth, I tired in small cans of minced clams and chopped crab. I added a half point of mussels, a dozen and a half raw shrimp, a bag of baby clams from the grocer’s freezer section and a few chunks of cod. The shellfish opened, the shrimp turned pink and curled their tails as the broth came back up to temperature.
I dished it up and added a hot section of multigrain baguette for soaking up the broth and it was dinner!
It wasn’t quite the ambiance of dinning in San Francisco, but for desert boy’s homemade cioppino near the Franklin Canal, it was pretty darned good. It made me remember my first taste of cioppino on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Franscisco.