First, I should admit that I don’t exactly come from a family gifted in the ways of the culinary arts.
They did each have their strengths – grandpa could roast a chicken with the best of them; grandma spun peanut butter, honey and toast into magic; and mom knocked out some killer lunch box sandwiches with the pickles and tomatoes packed separately to keep the bread from getting soggy (genius) – but for the most part they didn’t stray very far from the staples.
So when my friend Liz’s mom served up incredible Salvadoran feasts and my friend Andrea’s table was perpetually filled with Swiss delights there was definitely some dinner envy going on. This all went away one day a year though, December 25th when dad made cioppino.No one really knows where the tradition came from and honestly, the man really has no business being this good at it. He’s not Italian and his culinary skills fall almost exclusively into the grilling category, with some spill over into smoked meats. This did not deter him, little does. He set out to own this glorious seafood stew and year after year he does just that.
So I’m happy to share with you the dish that always outshined the presents under my tree, except for maybe the year I got a BMX bike and the movie “Rad.” That year it was a tie…
DAD’S CHRISTMAS CIOPPINO2 whole crabs, cracked and cleaned
2 pounds salmon, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
5 pounds mussels
2 pounds scallops
1 package brats or hot sausage, sliced
(3) 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
(2) 14 oz. cans chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white vermouth
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 hot pepper
4 ounces extra virgin olive oil
8 sprigs parsley, chopped
1/2 cup minced garlic
3 medium onions, diced
1 small package baby carrots, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh Italian herbs
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon fresh marjoram
4 broken bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
Scrub mussels, let soak in cold water until ready to use.
Sauté onions, parsley, carrots, hot pepper and garlic in olive oil over low heat in a 12-quart pot.
Add salmon and tomatoes to the pot. Cover and cook for approximately 20 minutes.
Add vermouth, chicken broth and bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a low boil, stirring often.
Add brats, salt, pepper and remaining spices. Cook for approximately 5 minutes.
Add mussels, scallops, crab, and shrimp. Stir often and cook approximately 10 more minutes until the seafood is done.

Add the butter and enjoy with crusty sourdough bread.
 
The recipe is based on one from Corti Brothers but he makes changes to it every year so feel free to improvise!If you have a favorite family recipe you’d like to share please reach out to us on Facebook: facebook.com/girlsonfood We’d love to hear about the best (and worst) dishes your family undoubtedly served up with love!

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