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Years ago, my husband Jack lived in Gloucester, Massachusetts – a coastal city located north of Boston and famous for its thriving fishing industry, as well as a popular summer destination for tourists. During that time, Jack often ate at a restaurant called Halibut Point Restaurant & Bar, named after its proximity to Halibut Point State Park – a granite quarry with breathtaking views that overlook the Atlantic Ocean.
Halibut Point, the restaurant, was a casual, local hangout and the perfect place to enjoy some great outdoor dining with friends. On the menu was the most delicious Italian Fish Chowder that Jack absolutely fell in love with – so much so that his usual meal was a cup of this fantastic chowder along with fried calamari and hot peppers.
Jack, to this day, still dreams about that Italian fish chowder (Gloucester is about a two hour drive from where we live now, so unfortunately, we don’t get up there very often!) and he recently set out to recreate it at home. It’s a super delicious chowder with a spicy (but not too spicy) tomato base flavored with onions, peppers and celery plus tender chunks of halibut (or cod) and potatoes.
Served with some warm, crusty bread, this Italian fish chowder is a taste of coastal New England in a bowl! I can totally understand why Jack loves it so much – and we’re sure you will love it too!
- ¼ cup finely diced salt pork (rinse all visible salt before dicing)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 cup diced green bell pepper
- 1/3 cup diced celery
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- Big pinch red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons dry oregano
- 1 tablespoon fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, minced
- ¾ pound peeled, diced new red potatoes
- ¼ cup white wine
- 4 cups strong fish stock or 4 cups bottle clam juice with one teaspoon clam base or any other strong stock such as lobster or shrimp
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomato (we like Cento)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 ¼ pounds fresh cod or halibut cut into one inch chunks.
- Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Place salt pork and olive oil in a medium to large heavy bottomed pot. Cook over medium high heat until the salt pork is rendered and slightly brown.
- Add onions, peppers and celery and sauté three to five minutes or until celery is tender. Add garlic and sauté one more minute.
- Add red pepper, thyme, oregano, parsley and diced potatoes. Sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add wine and cook until the wine has reduced by half.
- Add fish stock, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper and stir.
- Reduce to medium and cook about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
- Taste and adjust seasoning then add the fish. Gently stir and cook over medium heat for about two to three minutes or until fish is cooked through. Do not stir too much or you will break apart the fish.
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