Guazzetto is the Italian word for stew: not just any stew, but a low-and-slow-cooked stew. Cooking it slowly allows all the flavors to meld. I like to leave it off the stove for 10-15 minutes at the end to firm up and let the flavors come together.
This recipe combines the wonderful taste of fennel with seafood and sausage. Serve with crusty bread and it’s the perfect complete dinner.
This recipe serves 4 people. Start this recipe about 3 hours ahead of time to let the clams soak.
Ingredients and Directions:
- 1 pound of live Manila clams (or other small type of clams). You could also substitute live mussels
- 3 links of hot Italian sausage
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar & pestle or rough chopped in a electric spice mill
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- Pinch of hot chili flakes
- 1 fennel bulb, cored and sliced horizontally
- 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
- 1 16-ounce can of chopped tomatoes, or about the same amount of homemade tomato sauce
- White wine, about 1 cup
- 1 pound squid, bodies cut into rings and tentacles cleaned of beak and cut in half (cutting along length of legs)
- Chopped parsley
- Crusty bread
- Place the clams in a large pot, cover with cold water and cover with a lid. Place the pot in a cool place (not the frig) for about 2 hours to allow the clams to expel their sand and grit.
- About 1 hour before serving, start the stew. Place a teaspoon of oil olive in a skillet over medium heat. Warm the oil. Remove the sausage from the casings with a sharp knife, break up the sausage by hand and drop into the skillet. Break up any large chunks as the sausage cooks and saute until the sausage is browned but still pink inside.
- When cooked, remove the sausage to a plate leaving the fat from the sausages in the pan.
- Continuing the heat at medium, add the chili flakes, ground fennel seeds and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes until the garlic begins to brown and the fennel seeds give off their aroma. If the garlic begins to brown too fast, lower the heat. If you burn the garlic, start this step over. You can’t fix garlic once it has burned.
- Add the fennel and onion and saute for about 10 minutes until the fennel and onion are soft.
- Add the tomatoes and white wine; bring to a simmer.
- Add the squid and bring back to a simmer. Add the partially cooked sausage. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes, simmering the stew. As you allow the squid to cook, this your chance to adjust the thickness of the stew. Remove the cover as you like to allow the stew to thicken as it cooks.
- As you cook the squid, add salt and pepper to season. The next step will be to add the clams which will add saltiness so be careful about how much salt you add.
- Drain the clams and rinse with cold water. Place the clams in the stew and cover. The clams will steam open in about 5 minutes. Remove any clams that don’t open. If none of them open, you probably had the heat too low. The clams will release their clam juice as they cook finishing the stew.
- Ladle the stew into bowls and serve topped with chopped parsley and a chunk of crusty bread.