When fall weather has us hankering for a bowl of warmth, we tend to think of chili and beef stew.
The trouble with both of those delicious options is time. The best versions of each tend to require long simmers to develop the great and comforting flavors for which we're looking. That's fine for a weekend spent in the apple orchard but hard to squeeze in during the week when kids and errands are competing for our time at the stove.
And that was the inspiration for this delicious seafood stew. It is every bit as rich and flavorful as a good chili or meat-based stew, but cooks up in no time. Unlike beef, which needs a long, low simmer to become tender, seafood needs to be cooked quickly.
There aren't a whole lot of rules for a recipe such as this. Add or subtract ingredients as you see fit. But do cook the seasonings with the oil and onion first, as described in the recipe. This helps them quickly develop the sort of deep flavors you'd normally get from a much longer cooking time.
And don't be put off by the "spicy" in the recipe title. The heat is mild and is there mostly to highlight the other flavors in the dish.
SPICY SHRIMP AND HADDOCK STEW
Yield: 8 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil 2 russet potatoes, diced 1 large yellow onion, diced 4 cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed (use the back of a spoon) 2 stalks celery, chopped 15-ounce can diced tomatoes 8-ounce bottle clam juice 2 cups water 1 pound raw, shelled extra-large shrimp 1 pound haddock (or other mild white fish, such as cod or whit ing), cut into small chunks 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill 1 tablespoon lemon juice Salt and ground black pepper
In a large saucepan over medium-high, heat the olive oil. Add the potatoes, onion, garlic, thyme, paprika, red pepper flakes and fennel seeds. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the celery, tomatoes (and any juice in the can), clam juice and water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
Add the shrimp and haddock and increase the heat slightly to maintain a simmer. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or just until the shrimp are pink and the haddock flakes easily. Stir in the parsley, dill and lemon juice, then season with salt and pepper.