This grilled chicken and shrimp cioppino is our version of the San Francisco classic.
Cioppino (chuh-PEE-no) is an Italian fish stew with a tomato and wine sauce. Developed in the San Francisco Bay area by Italian immigrant fishermen, it is now considered as one of San Francisco’s signature dishes.
Cioppino first entered the culinary world in the late 1800s by Italian fishermen who settled in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. Originally made on the boats while out at sea, it gradually expanded to also become a daily staple for the workers on the the docks, now known as Fisherman’s Wharf. The ingredients in this “communal” kettle of fish stew was determined by the day’s catch.
At the turn of the century, Italian restaurants began to expand throughout the city, including around the wharf where cioppino grew in popularity. Today, a trip to San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf wouldn’t be complete without a serving of cioppino along with a slice of another San Francisco icon…sourdough bread.
Similar to our Hunter’s Stew recipe, cioppino is more of a concept rather than a list of ingredients. The ingredients in Hunter’s Stew is determined by the bounty of the hunt, while cioppino is based upon the catch of the day. Us home cooks classify these types of recipes as, “what’s in the fridge food”. Don’t you love recipes that have no rules? It’s all about what’s on hand or readily available on an easily run errand.
Although the cioppino of old may have only used the current day’s catch, today’s dish is a bit more sophisticated. It typically contains a combination of fish, clams, Dungeness crab, squid, shrimp, scallops, and mussels.
Here in the Midwest, such an array of fresh seafood isn’t cost effective. While we may have some of the best corn and beef in the land, we lack in reasonably priced fresh seafood to the point that it takes the “comfort” out of a comfort dish. Our cioppino recipe relies on shrimp and grilled chicken. It offers the same great tomato flavors, a hint of seafood flavor from the shrimp and a nice texture from the chicken. Plus, shrimp is always available even if we have to thaw it.
Because the nature of cioppino has no set rules, we feel as if ours stands up to the best of them. Don’t be limited to our recipe, though. If you have access to some great seafood, then by all means…throw it in! Don’t forget a good loaf of bread. It’s great for sopping up that great tasting broth.
If you’re looking for a recipe that’s authentic as possible, Saveur published one from San Francisco’s legendary Tadich Grill. Founded in 1849, we can assume their cioppino is the real deal. You can get the recipe here. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy our version. Ciao
- 2 chicken breasts or thighs, boneless and skinless
- 1 pound medium shrimp, fresh or frozen, thawed, shelled and deveined
- olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- red pepper flakes, per taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley, optional (for garnish)
- French or sourdough bread
- Prepare a grill for direct cooking over high heat.
- Lightly brush the chicken and shrimp with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill the chicken over fire with the lid closed. Cook until slightly browned and grill marks are prevalent. Don't worry about completely cooking the chicken, it will finish in the skillet.
- Before removing chicken, grill the shrimp for about a minute per side.
- Remove chicken and shrimp and set aside.
- Place a large cast iron skillet, Dutch oven or even a disposable aluminum pan over the fire and heat the olive oil. Sauté onion, garlic, celery and carrots for about 5 minutes or until onion becomes translucent.
- Add bell pepper, tomatoes, bay leaves, wine, chicken broth and oregano. Season per taste with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Close lid and allow to cook and reduce for about 15 minutes. Stir halfway.
- Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. After the 15 minute cooking time, stir chicken into cioppino mixture. Close grill and allow to cook an additional 10 minutes or until an instant-read meat thermometer registers 160°F (70°C) when inserted into the chicken.
- Add the shrimp and cook an additional 2 minutes.
- Carefully remove skillet or Dutch oven from grill. Remove bay leaves and garnish with parsley.
- Serve in bowls with bread on the side.