Recipe courtesy of Chef de Cuisine David Lossing, Vista Verde Ranch
This is a dish I have tweaked and played with for many years and that continues to be one of my favorites. I was first exposed to it living in the Bay Area of San Francisco and have adopted the “West Coast” style of the dish. A little spicier, a little more “stew like” then the traditional. I prefer using a lean white fish, such as halibut or sea bass, as well as a rich fish to counterbalance– I have found that Alaskan King or Silver salmon works nicely. Then, mussels and crab, or not, it’s up to you. For the bread, I use a sourdough, lightly oiled, and charred over an open flame. But this dish is very versatile, which is why I am including the broth base, and not the other parts. For the bread I have used Focaccia, Baguette, or even plain toasting bread when cooking it at home. And the seafood I have varied as well, depending on where in the country I am at the time. It is very forgiving, once you have a good base.
• 1 28oz can diced tomatoes (3 cups undrained total)
• 2 medium yellow onions, large diced (not the sweet, just regular works for me)
• 1 large red bell, and green bell peppers, large diced
• ½ Gallon chicken stock
• ½ Gallon lobster stock (I have used crab stock as well, but found that it tends to be a little too sweet)
• 2 cups pinot or Grenache (I use “Tribute to Grace” Grenache here at the ranch, but once again, doesn’t need to be specific)
• ¼ cup minced garlic
• 3 Bay leaf
• Kosher Salt and Black pepper to taste
• 1 ½ cup basil leaves, finely chopped or chiffonade
• 1 Tbsp oregano, dried
• 1.5 Tbsp red chili flake
• 2 tsp thyme leaf, dried
• 1 tsp white pepper
• In a medium sauce pot sautee peppers and onions, until the onions are just beginning to become translucent
• While your onion mixture is cooking, in a large container combine the diced tomatoes and stocks
• In another container, combine the tomato paste, dried herbs, and minced garlic
• After the onions have become translucent, mix in the tomato paste and spices, ensuring that everything is nice and incorporated
• Deglaze with the wine, and reduce by half, stirring constantly so the tomato paste doesn’t burn
• Next, add the stocks and bring to a boil; after a boil is achieved, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for an hour, stirring occasionally
• After the hour has passed, mix in the chiffonade of basil leaves and cool, or use with the seafood of your liking.
I prefer to make the broth a day ahead of time; like chili, it gives it time to meld together. When the time comes to use it, I will heat up a pan, sear my seafood, and then deglaze with the cioppino broth. Once it has cooked the fish and shellfish, I pour it into a bowl and serve with crusty bread. You may want to add a bit more basil on top if you’re feeling fancy. This recipe should be enough for a party of 4 to 6 ,depending on every party guest’s appetites.