Virginia Willis’ Creole Country Bouillabaisse

Virginia Willis’ Creole Country Bouillabaisse


  • 2 tablespoons pure olive oil
  • 1 onion, preferably Vidalia, chopped
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 to 16 red new potatoes, about the size of golf balls
  • 4 quarts homemade seafood stock (page 13) or water
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 1/2 cup (3-ounce bag) Old Bay Seasoning
  • Bouquet garnish (2 bay leaves, preferably fresh, 5 sprigs thyme, 4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, 10 black peppercorns, tied together in cheesecloth)
  • 1/4-cup tomato paste
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4-teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 2 pounds fresh kielbasa, cut into pieces
  • 6 ears fresh sweet corn, shucked and silk removed, broken in half
  • 12 live crawfish
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless halibut fillet, cut into large chunks
  • 12 large shrimp (21/25 count), in the shell
  • 12 mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
  • 12 cherrystone clams, scrubbed
  • Jalapeño Cornbread Muffins or crusty bread, for serving

1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy stockpot over medium-high heat until shimmering.

2. Add the onion and cook until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Add the potatoes, seafood stock, garlic, Old Bay, bouquet garnish, tomato paste, tomatoes, and cayenne pepper.

5. Cover the pot and heat to a rolling boil.

6. Decrease the heat to simmer and cook until fragrant and flavorful, about 15 minutes.

7. Add the sausage, corn, and live crawfish and return to a boil.

8. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

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