SHRIMP, OCTOPUS, CLAM, AND FENNEL STEW with FARRO
Hugh Acheson | The Broad Fork
This recipe comes from Kyle Jacovino, a young chef whom I adore. He helms The Florence in Savannah and is a smart chef who just has a natural way with food. It comes easily to him. This is a wonderfully aromatic seafood stew that is a meal in itself with the fennel and the farro. Kyle, to me, is the perfect person to meld the beauty of Southern food with the wonderful simplicity of Southern Italy.
1 whole octopus (1½ pounds)
1 cup farro (I love Anson Mills’ farro piccolo)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup sliced yellow onion
4 garlic cloves: 3 minced, 1 halved
1¼ tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup diced fennel bulb
½ cup sliced leeks, white and pale green parts
½ cup diced butternut squash
½ cup diced celery
½ cup dry white wine (one that you would want to drink)
1½ cups San Marzano tomatoes or your own preserved tomatoes, and their juice
1 quart chicken stock
¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
18 clams, cleaned of sand
18 shrimp, shelled and deveined
¼ cup torn fresh basil leaves
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 lemon: 1 half juiced and 1 half thinly sliced
Half a baguette, thinly sliced and toasted
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup chopped fresh fennel fronds
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
1. To prepare the octopus, season it all over with kosher salt and place it in a 4-quart ovenproof saucepan. Fill the pan with cold water until it covers about half of the octopus. Put the lid on the pan, place it in the oven, and bake for 1 hour or until the octopus is easily pierced with a knife. Cooking time can range from 1 to 4 hours, depending on the octopus, so check it every hour or so. Once the octopus is tender, remove it from the liquid and let it cool until you can handle it. Then remove the outer, darker skin and discard it. Remove the head of the octopus with a knife, and cut it into ½-inch-thick slices. Cut the octopus tentacles in half lengthwise and then into 1-inch chunks. Set aside.
2. Pour 4 cups of cold water into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Season the water with kosher salt, as you would pasta water, whisk in the farro, and turn heat down to a simmer. Cook until al dente, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the farro and rinse it under cool water. Set aside.
3. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes. The onions should develop a nice goldenbrown color. Add the minced garlic, red pepper flakes, fennel, leeks, squash, and celery and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Add the white wine and continue to cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
4. Now add the farro, tomatoes and their juice, chicken stock, cracked black pepper, and kosher salt to taste (keeping in mind that the clams will add more salt). Bring to a simmer and add the clams. After 5 to 7 minutes, the clams will begin to open. Then add the reserved octopus and the shrimp. Simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes, and discard any unopened clams. Finish the stew with the basil, parsley, and the lemon juice. Remove from the heat.
5. Rub the baguette toasts with the halved garlic and the olive oil. Serve the stew in bowls, garnished with the baguette slices, the sliced lemon, and the chopped fennel fronds.
Credit line: “Recipes reprinted from The Broad Fork: Recipes for the Wide World of Vegetables and Fruits. Copyright ©2015 by Hugh Acheson. Photographs by Rinne Allen. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.”