So as many of you do, or not, I watch a few cooking shows.  I make mental notes of what I want to make.  This recipe called to me.  I thought about it for a few days, and even saved the episode on my DVR. Then as my co-workers and I were deciding on what to bring to a recent pot-luck dinner for our team someone overheard our conversation, why wouldn't they, we're loud and work in a very open office environment.  She said I have a great recipe and proceeded to describe this.  I immediately knew it was from a cooking show, and sure enough I was right, she said it was good, a little labor intensive, but worth the work.  

It's called Cioppino (pronounced chuh-PEE-no).  I did a little online research, which is faulty at best and devised this history:

They say it originated or was popularized in San Francisco, specifically Fisherman's Wharf.  As much as I love SF, I like the romantic side of history.  So here's my version, it's thought that the word means "chip in".  And that an Italian immigrant, as my great grandfather on my mother side is, was asked to chip in some of his fresh catch for the communal stew kettle on the docks. The word may also originate from Genoese fish stew, called ciuppin, which means "to chop".  Lots of chopping of a few things is part of the recipe. The SF story says it was Portuguese and Italian fisherman, my versions says it could have been a whole lot of different immigrants from all over.  Regardless you can substitute different seafood, fish or other meat easily.  It's delicious and served with a crusty baguette, sliced with olive oil and toasted, it's perfection.  I have to say it's early in 2011, but this is the best thing I've made so far. 

I've heard your not to say out loud that you made something really good in front of your guest, but I couldn't help myself with SB, and technically he's not a guest, and I said "this is really good."  

Here's the recipe:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smaked
1 large or 2 small shallots, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1/4 teaspooon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon
1 pound spicy Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed (I used spicy chicken sausage, my co-worker used spicy pork, either will work)
2 cups white wine, such as Pinot Grigio (I used what I had left 1 cup of sauvignon and 1 cup Voigner, what can I say, that's what I had left)
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 point large shirmp, peeled and deveined
1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

In a dutch oven or large saucepan (I used a large saucepan, one day I dream of a big Le Creuset or Staub 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 veggies are slightly soften, about 4 minutes.   Add the sausage and break into 1/2 inch pieces with a wooden spoon.  Cook until brown, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.  Stir in the tomato paste, chicken broth, and bay leaf.  Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.

Uncover the pan and add the shrimp, beans, basil, and thyme.  Simmer, uncovered, until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 4 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf and discard.  Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Ladle the cioppino into soup bowls and server with the crusty bread. 

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis.  Go here.

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