Jasper White is a culinary icon here in the Northeast. He was one of a handful of chefs back in the 1980s who helped to elevate Boston's restaurant scene from 2 star to 5 star status. His fine dining restaurant, Jasper's, quickly became the pinnacle of seafood dining in the city. When he tired of the Michelin Star demands of his success, he closed Jasper's and became the Executive Chef of the famed Legal Seafoods group, helping them expand their offerings from stodgy fish and chip fare to a more modern, healthy take on all things from the sea.
These days Jasper is at the helm of his Summer Shack restaurant chain, family friendly joints that once again highlight his mastery of seafood, but this time stripped of all the pretense of his fine dining days. Suffice to say, Jasper White has become a trusted source for us in all matters fishy, and his recipes never…ever fail.
Take this seafood stew recipe which was recently printed in the Boston Globe in a somewhat modified form by Adam Ried, but originally found in White's cookbook 50 Chowders: One Pot Meals – Clam, Corn, & Beyond. I've altered it again slightly to accommodate ingredients we had on-hand and to scale it for our gang. This is a dead simple recipe, easy to prepare for a crowd, and is a great way to enjoy seafood in a dish that satisfies our desire for hearty, one-pot meals during the cold winter months.
Its topping of layered potatoes make it a pretty dish (in a rustic sort of way) to serve straight from the pot at the table. Make sure you've got plenty of warm, crusty bread handy to sop up all the delicious sauce.
Cheers – Steve
- 12 ounces of bacon, cut into lardons
- 3 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
- 4 ribs celery, roughly chopped
- 1 head of fennel, trimmed, cored and roughly chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon minced, fresh thyme
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 2/3 cup dry white wine
- 2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4 think.
- 4 tablespoon melted butter
- 2 1/2 pounds thick white fish filets (hake, haddock, cod)
- 2 cups (2 - 8 0unce bottles) clam juice
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- Heat the oven to 400℉. In a dutch oven set over medium heat cook the bacon until crisp, 7-9 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and reserve, pour off all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat. Adjust the heat to medium-high and return the pan to the heat. Add the onions, fennel, celery, bay leaves, thyme, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and saute until the veggies are very soft, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and the cayenne, bring to a simmer and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the fond, until the wine has mostly evaporated, 3-4 minutes. Remove half of the onion mixture to a bowl and reserve.
- Cover the onions left in the pot with half the potato slices, drizzle with half the butter, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Arrange the fish over the potatoes, and sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper. Spread the reserved onion mix over the fish, then top with the remaining potato slices and butter. Lightly season with more salt and pepper, then pour in the two bottles of clam juice. Cover and place in the oven to bake for about 40 minutes.
- Uncover the pan, pour the cream over the top, adjust the heat to 425℉ and bake, uncovered until the potatoes are very tender and the stew is beginning to brown, about another 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, partially cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the reserved bacon and sliced scallions, and serve.