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Seafood Stew with Tarragon

February 28, 2014



Seafood Stew with Tarragon

1+ cups chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only — about 1 large leek)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup dry white wine

3 cups chicken stock

1 tsp sugar

scant tsp salt

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 pound bay scallops

12-15 mussels, scrubbed

2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, in small pieces

2 cups coarsely chopped plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded and drained

2 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon

2 tsp lemon zest

1/4 tsp ground red pepper (optional)

salt, black pepper, olive oil

* * *

In a large heavy pot, over medium heat, cook the leeks and garlic in olive oil until tender, stirring often.   Add the wine, chicken stock, salt, and sugar and bring to a simmer.  Stir in the shrimp, scallops, and mussels, bring to a slow boil and then simmer the seafood until done, about 5 minutes.  The shrimp should be pink, the mussels open, and the scallops firm.  Remove the seafood with a slotted spoon and keep covered in a bowl.

Bring the mixture back to a boil and cook about 4 minutes.   Remove momentarily from heat and add the cold butter, stirring constantly with a whisk until the butter is melted.  Return to heat, add the tomatoes, tarragon, lemon rind, and (if you wish) red pepper.  Cook for a couple minutes.

Now return the seafood to the broth, heat through, and correct the seasonings.  Serve with crusty bread.


Notes:  This is my adaptation of a recipe called “Spring Seafood Stew” that appeared in Cooking Light.  I think…  There is a magazine cutout with my handwritten annotations in our soup and stew notebook.  I used to tear pages out of magazines in waiting rooms, and this looks like one of them.  I don’t do that any longer.  It was a very bad habit.

This stew is very satisfying and flavorful.  Tarragon and lemon are perfect seasonings for the sweet shellfish.  I might make this with a sliced fennel bulb sometime, using it to replace some of the leek.

The addition of cold butter at the end of cooking a sauce to give it a velvety texture and rich sheen is a French technique known as monter au buerre, to “mount with butter.”  It’s an emulsion.  The butter also adds a layer of flavor.

A Russian folk saying says, “Кашу маслом не испортишь” – “Butter won’t ruin the porridge,” or “You can’t get too much of good thing.”  That’s true of butter.  And love.  And kindness.  And friends.  Enjoy this stew with someone you love.  Enjoy it with a friend.



From → Food

One Comment
  1. Lynn Ronkainen permalink

    Sounds absolutely lovely Joe, thanks. A friend concocted what he calls market day fish chowder and it is similar only with onions/carrots and potatoes and various ‘fish’ fillets and cooks longer. He also throws in clams and mussels in the shell in at the last. His main herb is fresh cilantro which is amazingly delicious… I also love tarragon, so I’m going to have to try your stew too! peace, Lynn / Houston (I’m the vestment designer who visits SSW and sets my table up on the breezeway)


    When I stand before God at the end of my life I would hope that I have not a single bit of talent left and could say, “I used everything You gave me.” attributed to Erma Bombeck

    Thomas Merton writes, “People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.”

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