April 7, 2016 — Italian
‘Cacciucco is a truly Italian dish from the North of Tuscany in Livorno. Packed full of flavour with prawns, mussels and monkfish for taste of the sea. This dish also calls for yummy fresh bread to mop up the delicious sauce!’
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4 large whole raw prawns
3 or 4 handfuls of mussels
2 handfuls of clams
Small monkfish tail
500ml light fish stock or light chicken stock
125ml white wine
2 medium tomatoes
1 large banana shallot
1 clove garlic
Half a red or green chilli
1 pinch saffron
Generous bunch of parsley
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Mrs WDC’s favourite
I’m not sure what makes this particularly alla Livornese. I followed a recipe once but now I just follow my nose (or should I say tongue). The basic ingredients are pretty obvious: fish, seafood and liquid from cooking the first two ingredients. It ought to have at least prawns and mussels or clams, but can include squid and octopus. The style is light – with a saffron-tinged broth only gently strengthened by shallots, fresh tomato, garlic, chilli and parsley. Use the fish bones for a stock and make sure you keep the precious cooking liquor from the clams or mussels.
The whole point of this dish is its freshness and unctuous tastes of the sea. If you are not sitting on a Tuscan villa terrace overlooking the coast – then do the next best thing: set the table with a couple of candles, a crisp bottle of white wine and a basket of crusty bread. Make more than strict individual portions and keep the rest in a big tureen in the centre of the table – that way dinner can be extended almost indefinitely as you keep going back to pick-out any forgotten clams or mussels or find just one more ladle of broth to mop-up with the last of the bread…
A perfect winter warmer – Cassoulet!
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