A lot of people in the culinary industry discredit television chefs like Giada de Laurentiis (this recipe is from her latest cookbook). It seems they feel like the general public is invading their little exclusive club and it pisses them off. I think that’s ridiculous. So what if the average Giada fan doesn’t know the difference between a batonnet and a julienne? At least that person is cooking for his or her family. Celebrity chefs instill the confidence in people to cook dinner instead of order takeout. They inspire people to try something new instead sticking with the the same old and boring dishes. What could be wrong with that?
When I first started exploring the world of food and cooking I had the Food Network on 24/7. How the heck do you chop an onion? Why would anyone want the brown bits stuck to the pan inside their food? What’s the difference between saute and fry? I learned a lot. The more I learned, the more I loved. And now I’m writing my own cookbook. I still have a lot to learn but I really do owe my inspiration to the television chefs that make cooking look doable instead of intimidating.
Taste: Slightly spicy yet slightly sweet with a hearty tomato broth that’s good on its own.
Texture: The shrimp is perfectly cooked and goes wonderfully with the meaty sausage. You’ve have to serve the dish with crusty bread to soak up the broth, it’s glorious!
Ease: This is a stew which means it is easy almost by definition. You really can’t get this one wrong!
Appearance: The broth is a beautiful vibrant red color with specks of green.
Pros: Much easier and cheaper than traditional cioppino. Plus this recipe uses turkey sausage so it’s a little lighter too.
Cons: Leftovers aren’t the greatest.
Would I make this again? Yes. This dish is easy enough for weeknight and fancy enough for company.
How to make Shrimp & Sausage Cioppino
Yield: 4 servings
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 large shallots, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound spicy Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
2 cups dry white wine
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 dried bay leaf
1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
Crusty bread, for serving
In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the fennel, garlic, shallots, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Add the sausage and break into 1/2-inch pieces. Cook until brown, about 5 minutes.
Add the wine and scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Stir in tomato paste, chicken broth, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
Uncover pot and add shrimp, basil, and thyme. Simmer, uncovered, until shrimp is pink and just cooked through, about 4 minutes.
Remove bay leaf and discard. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in bowls with crusty bread.
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