Bouillabaisse is a traditional Provençal (Southeast France) stew, typically made with fish and shellfish. Although it was originally made with rockfish, today it’s also made with all sorts of different seafood. For this recipe in particular, I decided to go with lobster and mussels; I like the idea of pairing two foods that are at opposite ends of the price spectrum (lobster = rare & elegant, mussels = common & unglamorous). This dish is paired with my lobster stock recipe, so be sure to check that out since you’ll need some stock. Putting this dish together – stock and all – is actually a fairly quick experience: in about 90 minutes you’ll have a recipe that will have your dinner guests swooning.
Don’t let the assumed costs of buying lobster deter you. If available in your area, live lobsters are surprising affordable when compared to the going rate at a seafood restaurant. And really, sometimes you can’t put a price tag on eating a rich, classic meal in the comfort of your own home.
Also, don’t forget that I’m hosting a giveaway this week; click here for a chance to win two live 1.5 lb lobsters from lobster.com ($65 value)! The giveaway is limited to continental US residents and ends midnight, Saturday, Feb 8th, 2014. Good luck!
Brudet is a fish stew from Croatia, similar to an Italian Brodetto or Greek Bourdeto. All three are based on the Venetian word brodeto (“broth”). The recipes for each dish are similar; in fact, if you ever find yourself traveling along the Adriatic coast and see a similarly-named dish on a restaurant menu, you can probably bet it’s going to be a delicious fish stew cooked in a tomato base.
While there is a lot of variation to this dish, I like the Croatian version because it is an easy and unassuming approach to making soup. Marinate some fish for a while, then throw everything together at the proper time; it’s a true one-pot dish. Traditionally this dish is made with a mixture of fishes, to include eel, rockling, or coral trout; since they’re hard to come by, I think any firm white fish should be okay. I used cod. Adding shrimp and mussels also gives the stew a more rich and satisfying flavor.
Some long-term readers may remember that I posted a Beef Bourguignon recipe about this time last year. While it tasted great, I wasn’t happy with some of the steps in the recipe, and I was really unhappy with the pictures. So this past weekend I put my thinking cap on and tackled the dish from scratch, without consulting my old recipe at all. I’m happy to report that I made some pretty big improvements to my old recipe and cut out a couple unnecessary steps along the way. To avoid confusion, I’ve now happily removed my old, obsolete recipe.
Beef Bourguignon is a dish that originates from the Burgundy region of Eastern France. It’s widely accepted that this dish started as a peasant’s recipe, possibly as far back as the Middle Ages, as a way to slow-cook tough cuts of meat. However, it’s not mentioned in cookbooks until the early 20th century, when it was refined into the staple haute cuisine dish it’s generally regarded as today. Most people associate this dish with Julia Child, as her recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking is a timeless classic.
This dish is fairly true to the authentic recipes available today, and not terribly unlike Julia’s original recipe. Generally, this dish is cooked with bacon since lean/tough meats were typically used and adding bacon gave this dish some rich fattiness. I’ve also found that fattier cuts turn out really good as well. My personal touches include dusting the beef pieces in rice flour before browning (Julia browned the beef alone, then added flour and roasted the beef for a little while in the oven, turning the beef once halfway through – quite an involved step!). I also decided to keep the pot on the stovetop instead of transferring it to the oven; to me, this better mimics the open-fire method of cooking that birthed this dish, and it doesn’t alienate home chefs that don’t have a dutch oven yet. If you’re rice-free, never fear – while the addition of rice flour helps thicken the sauce and adds a little body to the broth, it’s not a show stopper.
Kalops is a traditional Swedish stew, first recorded in the 18th century. The word kalops itself is a cognate with the English word collops, which simply means “a slice of meat” – there’s actually some dispute as to whether the Swedish or English word came first. Either way, this stew is very similar to many English stews, but with a few Scandinavian twists: its signature flavor comes from a healthy amount of allspice, and it is commonly served with pickled beets. When carrots are added, the dish is called Skånsk Kalops, referring to the Skåne region (which is in Southern Sweden – perhaps carrots grow most abundantly there?).
Kalops is most often prepared with chunks of beef, but reindeer or elk are used as well. Personally, I thought it would be neat to make it with bison chuck roast, which US Wellness Meats recently sent me to try. It was pretty awesome. Overall, I loved this stew, and its characteristic allspice-heavy flavor gave it a warm, hearty, and very distinct taste.
Goulash has a fairly long history, as it is traced back to 9th century Hungarian shepherds (the term gulyás translates to “herdsmen”), when soup was an important part of the lifestyle. People would dry meats and veggies and then add hot water later to create a soup, and goulash was born. Although paprika is a signature spice of both Hungarian cuisine and this dish, it wasn’t introduced until the 16th century (bell peppers came from the New World), so the original variations of this dish were paprika-less.
Goulash is often classified as a stew here in the United States, but many Hungarians maintain that it’s a soup, often to differentiate it from a similar, thicker dish called pörkölt. Goulash is often served over egg noodles or spätzle, but many variations use potatoes, including mine. They help to bring a hearty feel to the dish, plus they conveniently thicken the sauce at the same time.
NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.
US Wellness Meats recently sent me a package of their grass-fed bison stew meat, and I jumped on the opportunity to make a traditional hearty stew. Rather than settle on the all-too-common crockpot stew (nothing against those), I opted to make this stew the traditional way – browned meat, sautéed onions, simmering wine-and-stock broth, and incrementally-added ingredients – to make sure the final product was both decadent and perfectly-crafted. That might sound like a lot of work, but it really isn’t – this is a dish that can easily be completed in a few hours.
Although the American bison is often referred to as a buffalo, it is only a distant relative of the true buffalo (like the Asian water buffalo). Its closest relative is the European bison, also known as a wisent. Its meat is usually leaner than beef, high in iron, and sweeter-tasting. Because of its leanness, I find that it’s best served in slow-cooked meals like this stew, as hamburgers, or as a grilled meat (like shish-kabobs) served medium-rare.
If you don’t have bison meat on hand, never fear – this stew tastes just as great with beef or lamb stew meat!
Chicken Paprikash is a famous Hungarian dish, known for its mellow flavor, mild sweetness, and tender chicken. Some might consider it a stew, and I’m not arguing that fact – honestly, it really doesn’t matter. This stuff just tastes good. This dish is commonly served with egg noodles or spätzle-like dumplings. I thought that my roasted parsnips would be a good substitution, and it worked; their crispy outside and slight-spongy inside were perfectly paired with the chicken’s creamy sauce.
Today’s recipe is somewhat of a joint venture with my friends Melissa and Nicole from mealpod.us. I love the concept of their site: they make a large batch of one dish in advance, and then freeze portions of it in their clever little “mealpods” for easy reheating. It allows them to eat healthy, regardless of how busy and frantic life gets. The only adjustment needed with my recipe to make it mealpod-friendly is to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of bone-in thighs/drumsticks. I sent them this recipe a few weeks ago and they made a version of their own; it turned out great!