Serves 4 to 5
This delicious seafood stew was a favorite dish of George Washington’s. He loved fish and ate it almost daily in one form or another. Fish Muddle is a “make due,” dish, the ingredients varying from day to day depending on what was to hand.
For the Muddle:
2 tablespoons olive oil – (drippings would have been traditional)
1 leek, thinly sliced and well washed, including about 4 inches of the green part
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cup fish stock or bottled clam juice
1 teaspoon mixed dry herbs – (Italian Seasoning) – or favorite fresh herbs
About 20 fresh mussels, scrubbed and with the beards cut off
About 20 littleneck clams, scrubbed
About 20 large shrimp or prawns, peeled and deveined
About a pound of firm fleshed white fish, cut into cubes
1 pound of scallops
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or other large heavy pot over a medium high heat. Add the leek, celery, onion and pepper and gently sauté until the vegetables are hot through, soft and only just beginning to brown. Add the wine and stir until all are well coated. Add the tomatoes, stock or clam juice and herbs and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about thirty minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare all the seafood and fish. Discard any mussels and clams that do not close when tapped. Place them in a heavy skillet or sauce pan over a high heat and shaking the pan, cook until the shells open. Remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Strain the liquid remaining in the pan through a coffee filter, (no, of course they didn’t have coffee filters in colonial times - they had to do it through cloth) and add it to the muddle.
1 cup Mayonnaise (or use commercial)
2 cloves of very finely minced
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh tarragon
Toasted fresh homemade bread or French bread
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or chervil
Salt and fresh coarse ground black pepper to taste
Blend the minced garlic and tarragon with the mayonnaise and set aside. Add the shrimp, scallops and fish to the muddle, bring to a boil, then immediately turn off the heat and stir in the parsley or chervil. Cover with a tight fitting lid and leave for about five minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Ladle into bowls, and arrange the mussels and clams on top of each serving. Spread the seasoned mayonnaise on the toast and serve with the muddle.