Friday, October 9, 2009

Rosie Makes Crab Bisque. Part 2 of 2.

The other day, I got an email from Xmaskatie asking me if I was in the mood to make a crab bisque Friday for lunch. Apparently, Xmaskatie is on a "Quest for the Best" Crab Bisque. So far, Sam and Omie's was at the top of her list and the Brewing Station was at the bottom. I can see clearly through this ruse. It is painfully obvious to me that Xmaskatie wants yet another free meal and is both flattering me and appealing to my sense of competitiveness, knowing that I will rise to the challenge. I haphazardly, non-chalantly picked up the tossed gauntlet, and went to work. First, I got out one of my Schwan's French baguettes, being sure to mark it off my freezer inventory. I baked it, then sliced it diagonally and made bruschetta. If I were Giada, I would EEEE-nunnn-CEEEEE-ATE bruschetta as BRRREW-SKEEEEE-TAH kinda to rhyme (not) with musss- SKEEEEE-ter.
I heated up some Extra Virgin Olive Oil, melted a bit of LOLUB (Land o' Lakes Unsalted Butter), and added some chopped fresh basil.
One clove of minced garlic went in just to heat.
I took each slice and dipped both sides into the butter/olive oil/basil/garlic then put it all under the broiler until it was nicely toasted. (Both sides.) Now, on to the crab bisque.
I started out with 1 onion, 1 celery stalk, 1/2 carrot, and 3 fresh bay leaves.
First I chopped the veggies, ...
then decided to Magic Bullet them. If you process your veggies, do the carrots and celery first, then add in the onions.
I had cooked bacon earlier for breakfast and saved a tablespoon of bacon grease along with some of the goody bits. I added in 2 TB butter and melted it.
Add in the processed vegetables to the hot oil, stirring for about 2 minutes.
I actually pulled out the carrots and minced them. I didn't want chunks. Just flavor.
I added in another tablespoon of butter and about 3 tablespoons of flour, cooking and stirring to get rid of the raw taste.
Keep scraping and stirring for about a minute.
I slowly added in 3 cups of my lobster stock just a little bit at a time. Instead of lobster stock, you could use shrimp stock or crab stock. Just use shrimp shells or crab shells instead of lobster shells and follow the same directions.
This is thickening nicely.
Add in the 3 bay leaves.
Add about 1/2 cup wine and
let the base barely simmer for about 45 minutes.
Since I'll be adding more liquid to this I think it needs to be just a bit thicker. What you need is a beurre manie. (Pronounced mahn-yay. It's supposed to have an accent ague over the e, but I don't know how to do such fancy stuff.) All it is is equal parts of butter and flour.
Knead together the flour and butter (I used about two tablespoons each.)
Add the beurre manie to the bisque and stir so the butter melts, releasing the flour without making lumps.
A little immersion blender action going on. I want a very smooth bisque. Important caveat: Remove bay leaves first.
Add in 1 pint of heavy cream, heating through. Now for the crabmeat.
Since it's Xmaskatie coming for lunch, I spared no expense in my selection of crab meat. Had it been just Mr. Hawthorne and me, we would have settled for a pound of claw meat for $9.00. Or probably the faux krab from Food Lion. (Not.) I passed over the $9.00 claw meat. I passed over the $11.00 backfin meat. I passed over the $14 lump meat. And I bought the $19 jumbo lump. Nothing's too good for Xmaskatie. Don't worry, Xmaskatie. To allow for this expenditure, not really allotted in my budget, the children just won't eat for several days. Not a problem. They're from hearty, peasant stock, as are we. They'll be fine. Really, they will.
Be very gentle with the crab meat. You don't want to break it up.
Carefully, add in the crab.
And sherry to taste. I started with 1/4 cup, heated through, and probably added another 1/4 cup. Bisque is ready. Keep it warm while you prepare the finishing touches. First, paprika infused oil.
I heated up some extra virgin olive oil (maybe 1/4 cup) and added about 3-4 tablespoons of hot paprika.
Heat through, slightly cool, then pour into a squirt bottle for ... well ... squirting.
Fresh herbs on the right side. Parsley on top. Thyme in the middle. Tarragon at the bottom. On the left side, top to bottom, are red pepper, sliced green onions, and lemon zest.
I sliced some lemons for flavor and the pretty.
And here's my crab bisque. Creamy, rich, smooth with some serious crab meat, a subtle undertone of lobster, and just enough sherry to make it happy. Every bite had a big lump or two of crab meat. And all the toppings enhanced and gave a different flavor in each spoonful. The crunch of the bruschetta was a nice textural contrast to the creaminess of the soup.
Here's what Xmaskatie had to say:

Well, as I told you the other day, I decided to go on a “Quest for the Best” crab bisque. You were my inspiration after reading about your efforts to find a better Caesar’s salad than the one you make yourself, except I knew I couldn’t make the best crab bisque. It was great fun while it lasted, and I highly recommend this challenge to anyone who enjoys crab bisque. After tasting just 4 bisques, I think I have found the best, and Rosie, I bestow that honor to/on you (not sure which, since I don’t do a lot of bestowing).

I will continue to try other crab bisques, but you have set the bar pretty high. Even if I take into consideration that a restaurant couldn’t use as much or as big lumps or as delicious a crab meat as you did, it is going to be difficult to surpass the creamy perfection that I enjoyed this afternoon. Not too much sherry, but enough to know it was there. Some of the less than perfect crab bisques I’ve tried reminded me of warm milk, and yours was so nice and thick, it coated the spoon just right. I also thoroughly enjoyed sampling spoonfuls with the different toppings, and I think my favorites were the tarragon and thyme. I always make a tarragon aioli when I make crab cakes; such a great combination. Next time I will add some thyme to my aioli. I would describe the broth (can you call something that thick–n-rich-n-delicious a broth?) as bold, but not strong. I wish I’d remembered to wave my hand over the bowl and take a whiff (like they taught us to do in chem lab), but I was too interested in tasting it.

I would drive 3 hours for your crab bisque, so let me know next time you plan to make it!

Thank you Rosie.

Ohhhh, thank you, Xmaskatie. It was a pleasure, as always, to serve you. And thank you so much for your kind words. Your check is in the mail.


Anonymous said...

A ruse, you say? Moi?
And I was sad that the Brewing Station's crab soup was poor, because I like that place, and usually have good food there.

Rose II said...


Donna-FFW said...

Unbelievably, amazingly delicious this sounds. You are the best!

Marilyn said...

I've never had crab bisque, but yours does look fantastique!