Ragoût de Morues et de Pois Chiche

As is often the case, when I opened my refrigerator the other day I was surprised by the somewhat odd combination of ingredients...some days I feel as if cooking in my teeny home kitchen is like an exit exam at a culinary school: being handed a basket full of ingredients and having to make something really good out of them...and in a short amount of time (I really do need to grocery shopping more often). At any rate, being a professional cook gives me the experience to make something out of whatever is at hand. But the food I cook in my home kitchen is way different than the food I cook at work. On the job the food I cook is often rich and laden with meat, cream, and butter. At home, more often than not, it is broth-based and has a small amount of poultry or fish in it...I cook a lot of one-pot meals. The recipe I made the other night (and had leftovers tonight) was inspire by a dish I had in the South of France some years ago. I was on the border of Italy, so the flavors of that region are easily apparent. Anyhow, this is one of my favorite ways to cook...food that is light but at the same time bursting with flavor. It's an easy recipe and can be adapted to suit your own personal preferences (and it's as good as it looks).

Codfish and Chickpea Stew

Serves 4

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 medium onion, diced

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon fennel seed

1 teaspoon basil

1 teaspoon seas salt

1/2 teaspoon crushed hot pepper

1/4 teaspoon crushed saffron threads

4 anchovy fillets

4 small potatoes, quartered

1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes (14 oz. can)

1 1/2 cup chickpeas (15 oz. can), rinsed

1 cup clam juice

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup white wine

1 1/2 pounds codfish, diced

1 bunch chives, minced

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a deep skillet. Add the onion and pepper; sauté a minute or two. Add the garlic, fennel, basil, salt, hot pepper, and saffron; sauté another minute. Add the anchovy and potato; stir to mash the anchovy and coat the potato with the flavors. Stir in the tomatoes, chick peas, clam juice, water, and white wine. Bring to a boil, then lower to a slow simmer; cook for about 10 minutes. Add the fish, gently pushing it below the surface of the ragout. Simmer an additional 5 or 10 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the chives; let rest for 5 minutes before serving.


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