Last month I had lunch at the The Pink Door in Seattle’s Pike Place Market for a late celebration of my friend’s birthday. Having been the first female bartender at the legendary restaurant, she knew what was going to be the best thing on the menu to eat that day–the House Cioppino. It was extraordinary–perfectly spicy, yet light, and spilling over with muscles. Given the drizzly fall weather, the cioppino proved to be an ideal selection, and one that I might not have otherwise ordered.
Cioppino, or fish stew cooked in a tomato and wine sauce, originated in San Francisco in the 1800s and used the fresh shellfish and fish of the day. Because shellfish can be expensive and many people have allergies, I wanted to try and capture the richness of the dish we ate, yet substitute more reasonably-priced items that would please most palettes.
I seized on the idea of several pieces of local fresh sole for the fish, and slices of PCC’s herbed chicken sausage for richness. We used our tomato compote, wine, and bone broth. Herbs, spices, and diced sautéed carrots and onions were added to the base while the sausages cooked in the oven for 30 min.. Once done, I sliced the sausages into bite-sized pieces and added them to the cioppino with cut uncooked sole. After about 8 minutes at medium-low heat, our “Cioppino-ish Dish” was ready to serve.
Turn oven to 350 degrees.
Put tomatoes (whole and sun-dried), olive oil, garlic and salt in large saucepan to make tomato compote. You can make the entire compote ahead of time.
While tomato compote cooks down, dice onions and carrots and sautée until fairly well cooked in a skillet or in the large dutch oven that you will use for the cioppino.
Place sausage on sheet pan with parchment and give the casing on each link a poke with a fork or tip of a knife. When oven warms to 350 degrees, place sausage in the oven. Turn links over after 15 minutes so they uniformly brown; it will take about 30-35 minutes total for them to cook. Remove from oven, and set aside until cool enough to cut into about ¾ inch sections.
Peel and press or dice the cloves of garlic (10 total, which will include the 3 you added to your tomato compote). Measure out your spices. Give the Italian parsley a coarse chop reserving several stems for garnish.
By this time your compote should be finished. Place all of the compote in the dutch oven with the sautée carrots and onions. Add the 3 cups of bone broth or low-salt chicken stock and 1 cup of wine. Stir to incorporate. Add the spices and the garlic and ½ of the Italian parsley and simmer for ½ hour. Add the sausage sections to the cioppino and slice the pieces of sole or white fish into 1 ½ inch chunks (they will shrink upon cooking–you can cut bigger pieces if you wish), and add them also. Cook on medium low until the fish is done–about 8 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed.
Spoon into warm bowls and garnish with a sprig of Italian parsley.