Cafe Society

In the kitchen with Z Cuisine's Charles MacDonald: Fisherman's stew

Charles MacDonald, the mouthpiece of this week's Chef and Tell interview and the chef de cuisine of Z Cuisine, which serves some of the state's best French food, makes la marmitte du pecheur -- or fisherman's stew -- at the bistro, the recipe of which he's sharing with Cafe Society readers. "Fresh fish, spicy sausage and a delicious broth makes this dish really fun to eat and even more fun to share," says MacDonald. "Don't be intimidated by the long ingredient list," he insists. "Once you've got it all set out, the dish itself comes together rather quickly." As a side note, the broth can be made up to four days in advance.

La Marmitte du Pecheur (Fisherman's stew) Serves 4

Broth ingredients

5 medium sized heirloom tomatoes, quartered 1 onion, cut into thin slices 1 head garlic 2 ounces fresh basil 1 ounce fresh thyme 1 tablespoon pimente de espelette or paprika 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Stew ingredients

1 pound halibut filet cut into 4, 4-ounce portions and seasoned with salt and pepper 8 little neck clams, washed thoroughly 1 pound mussels, washed thoroughly 4 ounces Il Mondo Vecchio longanzilla, or dry mildly spicy chorizo sausage, cut into ¼-inch cubes 2 shallots, thinly sliced 1 pound fingerling potatoes, precooked until they're soft 1 tablespoon fresh fennel seeds or dry fennel seeds, lightly toasted 1 tablespoon butter 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped 2 ounces dry white wine 1 tablespoon olive oil Salt and pepper to taste

To make the broth

1. Combine all ingredients except the fresh herbs in a pot large enough to comfortably hold them. 2. Bring to a simmer, cover and let simmer over medium-low heat for 1 hour, until tomatoes have broken down and given up all of their liquid. 3. Remove pot from heat and add fresh herbs. 4. Return cover to pan and let sit for 15 minutes. 5. Push all liquid and vegetables through a fine mesh strainer. 6. Reserve liquid and discard vegetable pulp.

Once the broth is made, preheat oven to 400 degrees

To assemble the stew

1. Preheat a large sauté pan over medium heat. (The pan must be large enough to hold all the ingredients) 2. Add olive oil 3. Lightly sear the outside of each of the halibut filets. (Keeping the pan in constant motion while placing the fish, one by one, in the pan will keep them from sticking.) 4. Transfer the halibut to an oven tray and cook at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes, or just until the flesh feels firm. Set aside in a warm place 5. In the same pan add diced sausage and brown for one minute. 6. Add shallots and fennel seed. 7. Add clams and continue to sauté until shallots are translucent, about one minute. 8. Deglaze with white wine and reduce the wine until almost all the liquid is gone. 9. Add tomato broth and potatoes. 10. Cover and let cook for 4 minutes. 11. Add mussels. 12. Cover and continue to cook until all the shellfish have opened. 13. Once the shellfish have opened, stir in butter and fresh herbs. 14. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper

To Serve

Carefully pour shellfish and broth into four large pre-heated bowls. Top each bowl with halibut. Serve with wilted greens and grilled bread.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson