Fish Muddle

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Native to North Carolina, this soul-warming fish stew can be adapted to use whatever your catch of the day is. It’s common to find eggs in this dish, added either in the shell to hard-cook in the stew or cracked into the stew to poach. We’ve hard-cooked them and kept them on the side, but you can customize your servings.

Fish Muddle
 
Makes about 4 quarts
Ingredients
  • ½ pound bacon, chopped
  • 1½ cups diced celery
  • 1½ cups diced carrot
  • 4 cups diced yellow onion
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups seafood stock
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 4 dried bay leaves
  • 2 pounds baby red potatoes, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 2 pounds skinless grouper fillets, cut into 1½-inch pieces
  • Hard-cooked eggs and sandwich bread, to serve
  • Garnish: fresh thyme
Instructions
  1. In a 6-quart cast-iron Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove bacon using a slotted spoon, and let drain on paper towels, reserving drippings in pot.
  2. Add celery, carrot, onion, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Stir in garlic; cook for 1 minute. Stir in stock, tomatoes, thyme, and bay leaves; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Stir in potatoes, hot sauce, remaining ¾ teaspoon salt, and remaining ½ teaspoon pepper; cook until potatoes are almost tender, about 25 minutes. Gently stir in fish; cook until fish flakes, about 8 minutes.
  4. Discard thyme and bay leaves; stir in bacon. Serve with eggs and bread. Garnish with thyme, if desired.