Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Cotriade - A Fish Stew from Brittany
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...We're ready for Christmas here. The manic rush is over and it's time to let the goodwill of the season envelop us. The tree is up, packages have been sent and our last party of the season is behind us. The remainder of the week belongs to the two of us and I've come to relish this quiet time. There are no deadlines to meet and during this lull, I'll pull recipes from my cortex and revel in the tastes and memories of Christmas past. Many of the dishes I'll be making for us during the holiday come from France. They are simple dishes from port cities or the French countryside and they are designed to satisfy, rather than impress. Haute they're not. Today's recipe is for Cotriade, a simple fish stew from Brittany that's often served during réveillon on Christmas Eve. It is to Brittany what bouillabaisse is to Provence, though it is much easier to make. It was originally made with the fishermen's share of the daily catch and each port seemed to have its own recipe for the stew. It always contained at least one kind of white fish, and while it was fortified with potatoes and herbs, it never contained the shellfish commonly associated with bouillabaisse. It is an uncomplicated dish that is completely dependent on the quality of fish used to make it. It can be delicious and it certainly is easy to make. The stew can be on the table in 30 minutes and it can be scaled up or down to feed two or twenty. I had originally intended to make this for our supper on Christmas Eve, however, the cod in the fish market looked so good that I decided we'd have it today instead. While the stew can certainly be ladled into soup bowls and eaten as is, there is a bit of ritual associated with its service. In a proper Breton kitchen, the fish and potatoes would be transferred to a platter and served with a sprinkling of red wine vinegar and fresh black pepper. The broth would be saved and served as an accompaniment in bowls with large croutons, so nothing would go to waste. The recipe I'm sharing today was developed by Mark Bittman. While I added a diced fennel bulb to my stew, I have not included it in the ingredient list below. Once you have a sense of the recipe, you can add other vegetables as you see fit, but I hope you'll try it his way at least once. This simple nourishing soup is now considered to be a luxury dish and I think it is one you really will enjoy. Here's the recipe.
Cotriade - Brittany Fish Stew...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Mark Bittman
1/2 cup bacon
6 cups fish or chicken stock
2 large onions
2 pounds filets of white fish
1 pound baking potatoes
Salt and pepper
Fresh parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1) In a large, deep saucepan or casserole set over high heat, add minced bacon, roughly chopped onion, potatoes (peeled and cut into small chunks), salt and freshly ground pepper, thyme and stock. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2) Add fish (cut into 1-1/2 to 2-inch chunks); cook, stirring until it cooks through, about 5 minutes. Squeeze lemon over stew; garnish with parsley. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings.
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