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Alabama Bouillabaisse

Serves: Makes 12 servings

Ingredients:

Seafood Broth

  • 12 head-on 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 1-½ 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


Bouillabaisse

  • 12 (1-ounce) pieces black grouper fillet
  • 12 littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 6 (2-ounce) pieces of bone-in triggerfish
  • 6 fried soft shell crabs (optional)
  • 4 large stone crab claws, cracked (optional)
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 6 Roma tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and quartered
  • ½ 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 ¼-inch thick slices
  • 2 cups halved and sliced leeks, about ½-inch thick pieces
  • 1½ teaspoons Kosher salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 long, thin strips orange peel, white pith removed
  • 2 tablespoons minced fennel fronds
  • 1 cup finely chopped basil leaves
  • 1 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 12 slices grilled sourdough
  • Rouille for garnish (recipe follows)


Rouille

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 egg yolk*
  • 3 tablespoons water or lemon juice
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon harissa or chili paste


Procedures:

The key to this clam, black grouper and crab-filled bouillabaisse’s great flavor is making your own saffron-infused 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, 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.

To Prepare the Bouillabaisse:

Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and 6 tablespoons of the extra-virgin olive oil in a Dutch oven. Add the shallots, garlic, 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 ½ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ 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 ¼ teaspoon of pepper.

Arrange the seafood and vegetables attractively in 12 wide soup bowls and ladle about ½ 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 ½ fried soft shell crab (if using) and 1 grilled sourdough crouton smeared with several tablespoons of rouille. Serve immediately.

To Make the Rouille:

Spread this spicy garlic sauce on toasted croutons as a traditional accompaniment to bouillabaisse.

Crush minced garlic and a pinch of salt in mortar and pestle until you have a smooth paste. Alternatively, you may use a food processor to combine ingredients. Add saffron and crush into paste with pestle. Next, using a whisk, whip the paste as you add the yolk and juice. Continue whisking and slowly pour in olive oil. Once combined, stir in chili paste until incorporated. Add more salt to taste. Transfer the rouille to a serving bowl and store it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

*Be cautious when consuming raw eggs. To avoid the risk of food-borne illness, use only pasturized, fresh and properly refrigerated grade A or AA eggs with intact shells. Avoid contact between egg and shell exterior.

Recipe by Chris Hastings owner and executive chef of the Hot & Hot Fish Club, courtesy of All-Clad.

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