This is where my parents live.
After spending about 20 years in the suburbs of Boston, raising my two siblings and me, they moved full time to the very outer reach of the Cape a couple of years ago. They now spend time going to yoga and planting in their garden. They oyster. Yes, that’s actually a verb (or at least it is out here, where folks buy yearly permits – November to March – for the joy of hunting for oysters once a week in their sandy beds).
My dad still works and my mom chases after the dog after birdwatching gets too exciting and she (the dog, not my mom) decides she must.join.them.NOW.
My parents also cook.
(Note: This is not a budget friendly meal. It’s also not an exact recipe – substitute your favorite seafood, vegetables, etc. Before you get started, make sure your carrots, onions, garlic, zest, basil, tomatoes, etc. are prepped. Once the stew gets going, it’ll cook quickly.)
Cape Cod Stew
- olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, chopped
- 4 carrots, diced
- 2 28oz cans plum tomatoes, juices drained and crushed with your hands
- 3 cups chicken or seafood broth
- 4-5 cloves garlic
- salt & pepper
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, cut into strips
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- a dash crushed red pepper
- 1 pound firm white fish, cut into 1-2 inch cubes
- 2 pounds mussels, cleaned
- 1 pound littleneck clams, cleaned
- 3/4 pound (uncooked) shrimp – in their shells will be tastiest, though the shells are a bit tricky to peel off in your stew
- 1-2 tablespoons Pernod or ouzo
- First, make sure your clams and mussels are clean. If not, soak them in a large pot of cold water and add a few tablespoons of flour; let sit for 1/2 hour. Discard any mussels or clams that are not tightly sealed closed. Remove the beards from the mussels.
- In large Dutch oven over medium heat, add a few turns of olive oil (about 1/4 cup). Heat through and add onions and carrots. Saute a few minutes, until softened. Add garlic, tomatoes, broth, wine, basil, orange zest, red pepper flakes and some salt. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add fish and mussels; simmer three minutes. Add clams and shrimp – cook another 2-3 minutes, or until the shrimp turns pink. (NOTE: depending on the size of the mussels/clams, you may need to adjust the cooking times.) Add tablespoon or two of Pernod or ouzo; taste the broth and adjust the seasonings to taste (salt, basil, zest, pepper, crushed reds). Serve immediately, garnished with an orange slice – a squeeze or two throughout the meal is delicious. Goes well with some warm, crusty bread.
This stew showcases the best of the Cape. Each bite = serious, serious love. Share judiciously.