Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dalmatian Brodetto (fish stew) with Creamy Parmigiano-Reggiano Polenta

This is a wonderful easy to make dish that every seafood lover is sure to love. I first had this dish over 25 years ago while visiting my brother and his wife in California. His wife and her family were immigrants from Croatia and this was a traditional family dish.  Being from Chicago, I had many Slavic dishes in the past, but this was new to my taste buds.

The combination of  the fish, the acids from the tomatoes and vinegar along with the creaminess  and texture of the polenta was a taste experience that I newer forgot. Many years later I was lucky enough to have  my brother's wife Vesna make this for us in my home.I think hers was even more delicious than I remember her mothers to be.

The beauty of this dish is you can use almost any seafood you like, even though traditionally it is made with a variety of rock fishes, sea bass, cuttle fish and  regional bivalves.

I lost the orginal recipe years ago, but have made my own variety of this dish based upon memory and fish that I can get locally. I used Cod9 inexpensive and holds up well) Shrimp (I live in a the coastal town on the Gulf of Mexico) and Mussels. Feel free to experiment and add what you like.
I hope that your family enjoys this dish as much as I enjoy making this.

Ingredients for Brodetto
  • 1 1/2 lbs of Cod fish
  • 2 lbs of Mussels
  • 1 lb of white shrimp, cleaned and shells removed
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced and halved
  • a small bunch of fresh chopped parsley
  • 29 oz can of Tomato Puree
  • 2  14.5 oz cans of stewed tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 32 oz of Vegetable stock (you can use fish stock if your prefer)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of white vinegar

Ingredients for Creamy Parmigiano-Reggiano Polenta
  •  32 oz of Chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of half and half
  • 4 Tablespoons of  unsalted butter 
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup of fresh grated  Parmigiano-Reggiano ( the real stuff, non of the fake!)
  • 1 3/4 cups of yellow corn meal
Direction for Fish Stew
  1. Cut the Cod fish into 2 inch pieces, clean the shrimp and mussels and set aside.
  2. Chop the onion, and crush the garlic in a garlic press; Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil and parsley. Add the salt and pepper and sweat till translucent.
  3. Add tomato puree, stewed tomatoes, and Vegetable stock, let come to boil, then add in the Vinegar, reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the seafood, bring back up to a boil  and then reduce heat to a low simmer.It doesn't take long for seafood to cook, dish is down when Mussels open and shrimp have turned color. DO NOT OVER COOK
Direction for Polenta
  1. In Large saucepan bring chicken stock to a rolling boil. Add Salt.
  2. Add Milk and half and half
  3. Gradually pour in corn meal
  4. Whisk constantly to avoid clumping, while stirring in butter
  5. Reduce the heat to low and cook until mixture thickens.(10- 15 minutes)
  6. Stir in  Parmigiano-Reggiano
To serve, spoon polenta into bowl about 1/3 of the way top remainder with fish stew....  make sure you spoon from bottom and get polenta with every bite!


  1. Oh my Gosh!!! That looks divine!!! and I love Polenta !!! What a Great Dish! Thanks so much for sharing this!

  2. This was delicious - we Boisvert's ate every single bite and Joe loved the polenta. The fish wrapped in bacon was also as good. Both are now in MY cookbook. Thanks again and keep 'em coming!

  3. Looks like a seafood fantasy! I guess the question is what fabulous wine to serve with it.