Saturday, March 8, 2008

Shellfish Stock

Ready in: 25 minutes.
Servings: 4 people.

  • 4-6 cups shellfish shells, from shrimp, lobster, and/or crab
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced or chopped
  • 1 carrot, roughly sliced or chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, roughly sliced or chopped
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • Several sprigs parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10-15 whole peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • Break thick shells (lobster and crab) into smaller pieces by putting in a sealed, thick plastic bag and either rolling with a rolling pin or hitting with a meat hammer to crush.
  • Cut up thinner shrimp shells with a chef's knife.
  • Don't crush or cut too small.
  • You can even skip this step if you want, if you are already dealing with broken up shell pieces (like cracked crab).
  • Put in a large stock pot and cover with an inch (but no more than an inch) of water.
  • Put the stove temperature on medium high and slowly heat the shells in the water.
  • As soon as you see that little bubbles are starting to come up to the surface, reduce the heat to medium.
  • Do not let it boil.
  • You want to maintain the temperature at just below a simmer, where the bubbles just occasionally come up to the surface.
  • Do not stir the shells.
  • Stirring will muddy up the stock.
  • As the bubbles come up to the surface a film of foam will develop on the surface.
  • Use a large slotted spoon to skim away this foam.
  • Let the shells cook like this for about an hour; skim the foam every few minutes.
  • The foam comes from shells releasing impurities as their temperature increases.
  • Put the thyme, bay leaves, and parsley in cheese cloth.
  • Secure with kitchen string to make a bouquet garni.
  • Once the stock has stopped releasing foam, you can add the wine, onions, carrots, celery, tomato paste, herb bouquet garni, and peppercorns.
  • Bring to a low simmer and reduce heat so that the stock continues to simmer, but not boil, for 30 minutes.
  • If more foam comes to the surface, skim it off. Add salt and remove from heat.
  • Dampen a few layers of cheesecloth and place over a large, fine mesh strainer, over a large pot or bowl.
  • Pour the stock into the strainer.
  • Discard the solids. Either use the stock right away, or cool for future use.
  • If you aren't going to use in a couple of days, freeze (remember to leave some head room at the top of your freezer container for the liquid to expand as it freezes.)

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