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Marmitako

(Food styling/karoline boehm goodnick; Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff)
By Karoline Boehm Goodnick
December 22, 2008
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Serves 8

Haddock, a North Atlantic favorite, saw diminished numbers in the 1990s. But there's reason to celebrate. The fish has made "a real comeback," says Laura Foley Ramsden of Foley Fish, because of "fishing ground closures and effective regulations." Eat haddock and you'll support a local, sustainable resource and enjoy a healthy meal. Haddock needs moist heat and shines in a stew. Spain's Basque fishermen have been cooking this pot on their boats for centuries (marmitako means "casserole"), mostly with fresh tuna, though today you see it made with salmon. I learned the recipe from Chicago chef Christian Eckmann, who learned it at Arzak, a celebrated restaurant in San Sebastian, Spain. Simmer the fish with wine and water, or use some fish or chicken stock in place of half the water. Spanish tradition dictates that the potatoes are broken into pieces with a small knife. Use golden potatoes; insert the tip of a paring knife (a serrated edge works best) into the spud and twist, breaking off irregular pieces. Pimenton de la vera or smoked paprika (available at specialty markets and www.latienda.com), adds a little smoky flavor, and with hot paprika and sweet bell peppers makes a warm and inviting pot.

2tablespoons olive oil
1tablespoon pimenton de la vera
1teaspoon hot paprika
3cloves garlic, finely chopped
3leeks, thinly sliced
4bell peppers (various colors), seeded and thinly sliced
2carrots, thinly sliced
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes
1cup white wine
4quarts water
2large Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn potatoes, broken into 3/4-inch pieces
3/4pound boneless haddock, cut into 1-inch pieces

1. In a stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Stir in pimenton and paprika and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

2. Stir in the garlic, leeks, bell peppers, carrots, and salt. Cook over low heat, stirring often, for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

3. Stir in the tomatoes, wine, water, and potatoes. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

4. Add the haddock and cook for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like.

Notes:

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