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Recipe: Eastern North Carolina Fish Stew in the Slow Cooker

Posted April 5, 2018 9:00 p.m. EDT

From CAROLINA CATCH: COOKING NORTH CAROLINA FISH AND SHELLFISH FROM MOUNTAINS TO COAST by Debbie Moose. Copyright (c) 2018 by the University of North Carolina Press.  Used by permission of the publisher. www.uncpress.org​
Credit: Juli Leonard

Noted food writer Debbie Moose has a new cookbook out. "Carolina Catch: Cooking North Carolina Fish and Shellfish from Mountains to Coast" is published by the University of North Carolina Press and includes more than 90 recipes that feature fish and seafood found in North Carolina waters.

Moose shared her recipe for Jan's Buttermilk Pound Cake here on Go Ask Mom a couple of years ago from her book "Buttermilk: A Savor the South Cookbook." I'm thrilled to share another recipe from Moose today.

In "Carolina Catch," Moose explores lesser known kinds of fish - what used to be called "trash fish."

"But they're not trashy," she tells me. "They're delicious! And to help with that pervasive 'fear of fish,' I offer detailed cooking instructions for all the basic techniques."

Moose has lined up a couple of book signings. She'll be at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh at 7 p.m., April 12. She'll head over to Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill for a signing at 7 p.m., April 26. For the recipe she shares today, Moose has some history and tips.

"Fish stew that includes poached eggs is an eastern North Carolina tradition, which cooks concoct from old recipe cards or simply from memory," she writes. "After preparing it the usual way, by simmering on the stove, I thought it might work well in a slow cooker—and it did, with a few adjustments. Add the fish near the end of the cooking time to prevent overcooking. I poached the eggs separately, but if your slow cooker has a simmer function, you could try poaching the eggs in the broth, as is traditional."

Eastern North Carolina Fish Stew in the Slow Cooker

Alternatives: drum, mahi, dogfish, sheepshead
Makes 6 servings

1 1⁄2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1⁄4-inch slices

1 large white or yellow onion, thinly sliced

4 medium cloves garlic, sliced

1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt

1⁄4 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper

2 tablespoons tomato paste

4 slices bacon

1 1⁄2 pounds monkfish fillets, cut into 6 pieces

6 eggs

Lightly spray the bottom of the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Layer half of the potatoes, then half of the onions, half of the garlic, half of the salt, and half of the red pepper. Repeat the layers with the remaining vegetables and seasonings.

Whisk the tomato paste into 2 cups of warm water until it dissolves, then pour over the layers. Add enough water to cover the layers, about 8 cups. Cover and cook on High for 3 hours.

Fry the bacon until crispy, drain, and crumble. Reserve the bacon grease.

After 3 hours, pour 1 tablespoon of warm bacon grease into the stew, then nestle the fish gently into the liquid until completely covered. Cover and cook for 30 minutes to 1 hour or until the fish is flaky and cooked through. Thicker fillets will take more time than thinner fillets.

Poach the eggs in a pot of simmering water.

To serve, ladle the stew into bowls, including 1 piece of fish per serving, then add 1 poached egg. Top with crumbled bacon.

From CAROLINA CATCH: COOKING NORTH CAROLINA FISH AND SHELLFISH FROM MOUNTAINS TO COAST by Debbie Moose. Copyright © 2018 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher.

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