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Cataplana Portuguese fish stew

Cataplana Portuguese fish stew

A cataplana takes its name from the Moorish designed copper domed dish it was originally cooked in. The dish was first introduced into the Algarve region of Southern Portugal way back in the 8th century .The food was placed in the bowl shaped base and the domed top provided a sealed space for the ingredients to simmer and infuse. Today the cast iron cocotte is a perfect replacement for such a cooking pot. Ingredients for the cataplana vary from region to region with use of much artistic licence but the base of tomatoes, onions, wine and herbs remains the same. This recipe influenced by the Western Algarve style includes potatoes, firm white seasonal fish, seafood, peppers and a hint of chilli added to the base sauce. Serve traditionally straight from the cooking pot with crusty bread.

  • Serves: 4

What you need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 100g (3 1/2 oz) pancetta cubetti or smoked bacon cut into small pieces
  • 100g (3 1/2 oz) chorizo sausage
  • 1 large mild Spanish onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes in juice
  • 250ml (1 cup) dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pinch dried chilli flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 450g (1lb) Waxy potatoes
  • 1 large green pepper deseeded and chopped
  • 400g( 14oz) firm white fish cut into large chunks*
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) uncooked mussels in their shells*
  • 175g (6oz) prepared raw baby squid cut into bite sized*
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley to serve.

What you do:

  1. Heat the oil in the casserole over a low to medium heat and add the pancetta and chorizo sausage. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the pancetta begins to brown and the chorizo has released its oil. Remove from the casserole with a slotted spoon and place into a small bowl for later use.
  2. Add the onions and garlic to the oil in the casserole and cook for a few minutes until softened.
  3. Add the tomatoes, wine, bay leaf, chilli flakes and salt. Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat to low and continue to cook with the lid off for 15 minutes.
  4. Peel and dice the potatoes to 1 cm (1/2 inch) cubes and add to the tomato sauce along with the chopped peppers, cooked pancetta and chorizo. Stir well, place the lid on the pan and continue to cook for 15 minutes. After this time the potato should be tender but not soft.
  5. Stir the chunks of fish, mussels in their shells and lastly the squid into the slow simmering sauce and replace the lid. Continue cooking for 15 minutes. Do not lift the lid during this time. Allow to stand with the lid on for 5 minutes after turning off the heat.
  6. Gently stir the contents of the casserole being careful not to break up the fish and discard any unopened mussels.
  7. Sprinkle over the chopped parsley and serve traditionally straight from the casserole with some crusty bread.

Cook's tip:

Firm white fish - Any mix of fish such as monkfish, bass, and mullet are suitable depending on availability.

Mussels - Clean the mussels and remove the beard, this is the weed like substance at the edge of the mussel. Discard any damaged or completely opened mussels.

Squid - The squid can be replaced by raw king prawns if preferred.

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Le Creuset

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Le Creuset is recognised the world over for market-leading, premium quality ranges of enamelled cast iron cookware, multi-ply stainless steel, toughened non-stick, stoneware and ceramics, along with its outstanding range of wine accessories.

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