Our paternal grandfather, Giuseppe Becci, was born and raised in the little village of Scapezzano in the region of Marche, Italy, which sits not far from the Adriatic Sea. The beautiful breezes from the sea wash up the hill to the village, bringing a fresh, briny aroma that scents the air like perfume. The sea is teaming with fish of all varieties and a traditional soup that can be found up and down the coast of Marche is the brodetto. What started as a way to use the small catch and scraps that remained after the fishing boats sold their wares has become a very popular dish with unique variations claimed by many of the coastal towns. The base for the brodetto is typically onion, garlic, tomato and parsley with different variations of fish added, resulting in a beautifully fragrant broth that bathes the fish of choice and echos the aroma of the warm breezes from the sea.
Joey and Mark recently came to visit here in Pennsylvania – a glorious time spent reconnecting with family and friends – a week filled with hugs and smiles and reminders of what was sacrificed over the past year – and most importantly, reminders to not forget these simple pleasures of life. Joey and I were able to cook up a storm together – I had forgotten how well we cook together – a sort of dance around the kitchen each knowing how to anticipate the others needs as we chopped, diced, rolled, and simply enjoyed. (How I wish we lived closer, dear fratello!) Taking a page from the brodettos of Marche, we found deliciously plump monkfish at the local market and decided to riff on the classic recipe, throwing in some flavors from our mother’s Sicily.
We started with the classic base of onion, garlic and tomatoes, added in some carrots that we had on hand to add a sweetness to the briny tomato broth, and then tossed in some olives, capers and raisins towards the end. We added in about a teaspoon of vinegar at the end to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. If you cannot find fresh monkfish, any firm white fish will do such as snapper, grouper or halibut. This recipe comes together easily for a weeknight and was a light, bright tomato broth that was delicious served simply with wonderfully crusty bread to soak up all the sauce and a light green salad. We hope you enjoy as much as we had making it.
Wishing everyone a beautiful spring filled with lots of smiles and post-vaccination hugs,
A riff on the classic brodetto from Marche that includes Sicilian influences. Easy Italian recipe for a quick weeknight meal!
- 1 pound monkfish*, cut into large chunks about 2-inches
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Flour for dredging
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, halved lengthwise, cut into thin slices
- 1 clove garlic, diced
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 (15 1/2- ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (8 ounce) bottle clam juice
- 4 medium carrots, halved, cut into 1 inch chunks
- 1 cup black olives, pitted
- 1/4 cup capers, drained (if salt-packed then soaked in cold water for 1 hour)
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (plus additional for serving)
- White wine vinegar, to taste
- Season monkfish with salt and pepper. Put about 1 cup of flour in a shallow bowl or dish. Dredge the monkfish fillets in the flour to coat.
- In a medium to large stew pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add the fish and cook until the fish is lightly browned on all sides. Remove to a platter.
- Add in the sliced onion with a pinch of salt and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook with the onion for about 1 minute. Add in the white wine and simmer for a few minutes to deglaze. Stir in the tomatoes and clam juice. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add in the carrots. Simmer until the carrots are soft and the sauce slightly thickened, about 30 minutes.
- Add in the olives, capers and raisins. Stir to combine and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
- Add in the parsley and about a tablespoon of vinegar. Stir and taste. Adjust white vinegar, salt and pepper. You should just barely taste the acidity from the vinegar but add more if you like.
- Add the monkfish back to the pot and cook for a few minutes to warm the fish and allow to cook through completely.
- Serve sprinkled with additional parsley and crusty bread to dip in the sauce.
* In place of monkfish, you can substitute red snapper, halibut, haddock, or grouper.