Wednesday, April 17, 2013

lobster bisque

I didn't have many cravings when I was pregnant. Jon made no late-night runs for pickles and ice cream, and I never put peanut butter on anything other than toast. This does not mean I squandered the opportunity to demand anything my tastebuds wanted. No sir. Can't have sushi? So be it; grill me a lobster, I'd say. And Jon, that dear, handsome man of mine would dutifully obligue. On one such occasion I posted a picture of the charcoaled crustaceans on Facebook. My Aunt Patty commented, "Yum! Did you save the shells to make stock for your next night's dinner, lobster bisque?" What a brilliant idea--two meals for the price of one. (Or, really, further justification for the initial splurge.) I never made the bisque while I was pregnant, but I never forgot the suggestion. 

A few weeks ago I tested to see if my demand-anything powers still worked. They did (lucky me). Jon picked up a clam bake from Tackle Box on his way home. (Yes, they have take-out clam bakes, and YES they are wonderful!) Cecile went to sleep and we dug in and devoured everything. Everything but the shells, of course. Today I share with you the recipe I used (adapted from Epicurious) for the next day's bisque. Here, my friends, is your ticket to justify that lobster dinner you're craving ... 
- shells and bodies from 2 lobsters
- 4 T olive oil
- 1 white onion, sliced
- 1 large celery stalk, sliced
- 1 small carrot, sliced
- 2 garlic heads, cut in half crosswise
- 1 tomato, sliced
- 2 T chopped fresh tarragon
- 2 T chopped fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- dash of red pepper flakes
- 10 whole black peppercorns (about 1 T)
- 1/2 c. brandy
- 1/2 c. Sherry
- 4 c. fish stock or bottled clam juice (I used fish stock)
- 1/2 c. whipping cream
- 2 T flour
- salt and pepper, to taste
Directions: Coarsely chop lobster shells and bodies; transfer to a medium bowl. Heat olive oil in a heavy large pot over high heat. Add lobster shells and bodies and saute until the shells begin to brown, about 10 minutes. (I found at this point I needed to add an extra 2 T of olive oil.) Add onion and next 9 ingredients. Mix in brandy and Sherry. Boil until almost all the liquid as evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add fish stock, and 2 cups water. Cover and simmer one hour, checking on the stock every so often to stir and breathe in the yummy, yummy aroma.
I love how, whenever I cook, Bogie sits on the mat in the corner of our tiny kitchen, hoping, wishing, wanting for something delicious to fall to the floor. She won't whine. But if you try to pet her during this time, she'll duck. It's as if to say, "Don't interrupt; I must pay careful attention."
But I digress. Back to the bisque: Strain soup through a sieve set over a saucepan, pressing firmly on solids to expel any remaining juices. Whisk tomato paste into the soup. Simmer until the liquid is reduced to about 3 cups, about 20 minutes. (If preparing one day ahead, you can stop here, cover, and refrigerate.) Add cream to soup and simmer 5 minutes. In a separate, small bowl, whisk flour and 1 tablespoon of water together. Add the paste to the soup and bring to a bowl until thickened, about 2 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with crusty bread. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
We ate this bisque for lunch on a Saturday afternoon. It was extremely rich and creamy, and quite filling. Best yet, it was so darned easy to prepare. After you cut up all the ingredients and throw them in the pot, it's just a lot of waiting around, really. This recipe was so simple, in fact, next time I order lobster in a restaurant I just may be a wierdo and ask for the carcass in a doggie bag. (Hey: Don't judge until you make this soup yourself.) Enjoy!