Fish and Seafood

Fish Cacciatore

Most of you are familiar with Chicken Cacciatore, one of my family’s favorites.  Cacciatore means hunter in Italian and it refers to a meal prepared hunter-style, usually in a robust tomato-based sauce.  The cacciatore sauce is the true star of this recipe, boasting a rich blend of tomatoes, wine, bell peppers, onions, garlic, and a medley of Italian herbs. Simmered to perfection, the sauce develops an amazing depth of flavor.  To make this a “quick” sauce, use a prepared marinara sauce and fish stock.  My favorite prepared sauce is Mezzetta Spicy Marinara and my favorite fish stock is Aneto Fish BrothKitchen Basics Original Seafood Stock and Imagine Foods Seafood Stock are also good.  None of these are made with clam juice, which is my preference.   

Recently, our son brought us some freshly caught Pike (straight from Lake Coeur d’Alene).  I often have extra cacciatore sauce in the freezer and I decided to poach the Pike in the cacciatore sauce.   It was outstanding!  I have made a few changes to the Chicken Cacciatore recipe to complement the fish such as using fennel and leeks and fish stock instead of chicken stock.  Use any firm white fish.  Cod is readily available, reasonably priced, and super delicious.  Halibut is another excellent choice.  Choose whatever fish is fresh. Cooking the fish in the sauce keeps the fish wonderfully moist as well as fully saturated with delicious Italian flavor.   Serve with rice, polenta, or pasta and some crusty bread to sop up the wonderful juices.  Italian comfort food never tasted so good!

Fish Cacciatore

Cacciatore sauce is a rich blend of tomatoes, wine, bell peppers, onions, garlic, and a medley of Italian herbs. Choose any white fish you like to poach in the sauce for a quick, flavorful one pot dinner.
Author Rosalie D’Amico

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 leek, diced (about 1 cup) or ½ yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • ½ small fennel bulb, diced
  • 1 rib celery. diced
  • 1 carrot. peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • ½ small green bell pepper, diced
  • ½ small red bell pepper, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 jar Mezzetta Spicy Marinara or 2½ cups crushed canned Italian tomatoes in purée (do not use diced tomatoes or your sauce will be too thin)
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of saffron (optional)
  • Chili pepper flakes to taste or chopped Jalapeño (optional if you use Mezzetta Spicy Marinara)
  • 1 cup fish stock (or water), or more
  • Fresh thyme, parsley, and basil for finishing

Instructions

Make the Sauce

  • In a sauté pan or saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and sauté leeks or onion, fennel, celery, carrot, garlic, green and red peppers and salt for about 5-8 minutes, until onions become translucent.
  • Add wine to pan and cook for at least 5 minutes to cook off the alcohol. Add marinara or tomatoes and dried thyme, oregano, and saffron (if using). Add fish stock or water and simmer together, covered, for 30 minutes. If you use canned tomatoes instead of prepared marinara, you may have to cook longer to develop good flavor. I highly recommend using the Mezzetta product for a “quick” sauce.
  • Taste the sauce and adjust the flavors and consistency to your liking.

To Finish

  • Nestle the fish in the sauce and cook until fish is flaky and cooked through. If the sauce does not cover the fish, turn it over halfway through the cooking time.
  • Add finely chopped fresh basil and parsley before serving.
  • Serve with steamed rice, polenta, mashed potatoes, or pasta.

Notes

My favorite fish stock is Aneto Fish Broth. I also recommend Kitchen Basics Original Seafood Stock and Imagine Foods Seafood Stock.
Scott with a Pike from Lake Coeur d’Alene