Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Seafood Bisque. Shrimp And Crab.

With temperatures hovering in the mid-90s, I figgered it was time for a nice, steaming bowl of hot soup - a seafood soup.  Technically, I'm making a bisque.  That makes my soup French, smooth and creamy, and made with crustaceans, or shellfish, with the notable addition of wine and cream.  It is thought that the name is derived from Biscay, as in Bay of Biscay off the coast of France.  Bisque could also be derived from bis cuites, meaning twice cooked, since the shells are themselves first cooked, then the whole mélange is cooked together.

What about a chowder, you ask?  Is it chowder?  No, mes petits.  A chowder, while also derived from the French, is thick and chunky and filled with hearty vegetables, like potatoes.  And the word "chowder" (in French, chaudrée) comes from the French word for cauldron (chaudron), which is the pot Frenchmen used to cook their soup.

Now, where was I?  Oh...  the bisque.  Summertime.  Heat.  Why, Rosie?  Why?
Well, I'll tell you why.
The Hawthornes just bought 25 pounds of heads-on shrimp from our shrimpman, stocking up for the winter ahead.  Gathering our nuts, so to speak, like little squirrels.  To freeze the shrimp, we first must de-head the little buggers, and Rosie, not being a wastrel, is going to put all those heads to good use.

Here's my game plan:
First, I'm making a seafood stock, using the heads and any shells I might have, along with some "aromatics."  Then, I'm making the seafood bisque, using some of the stock (and freezing the rest), and tossing in some shrimp and lump crab meat, with a little sherry and cream added in for good measure.

 Here's the prize, so hang on.
It's worth the wait and the effort.

Let's start on the stock.
And remember:  The amounts here are not etched in stone.  
Making a stock is all give and take.  Don't worry about exact amounts.
Just throw it all in a pot and go for it.

I have at least 2 pounds of shrimp heads and shells here.

For my aromatics, I have onions, carrots, celery stalks, garlic, peppercorns, thyme, and bay leaves.
Coarsely chop the onions, carrots, and celery, and smash the garlic.

I heated up 2-3 tablespoons of oil in my stock pot (medium heat) and poured in the shrimp heads.

Poke and stir the shrimp for 5-6 minutes.

  When the shrimp have turned a nice pink color...

... like this ...

Add in the aromatics.  Along with a teaspoon of kosher salt.

I use fresh bay leaves just picked off my tree.  If you're using dried, only use one or two. 
Dried is stronger.

Pour in water to cover - about 6 quarts.
Bring to a simmer and let it go for about 45-60 minutes, skimming any foamy stuff off the top.
Drain off liquid and discard solids.
Yield:  about 4 1/2 quarts
I froze 4 of the quarts and saved a pint for my seafood bisque.

Now, here's the shrimp and crab bisque.
Shrimp and Crab Bisque
Yield:  1 quart

1/4 cup minced celery
1/4 cup minced onion
4 TB unsalted butter
4 TB flour
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 pint shrimp stock
1 TB Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup sherry
1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 pound lump crab meat
2 dozen shrimp, cooked and chopped (Again, don't count out exactly 24 shrimp.  This is just a guideline.)
a few drops Texas Pete (optional), to taste
fresh thyme
chopped scallions

Over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add in the onion and celery and sauté for about a minute.  Add in the flour and cook, stirring, for two minutes.  (You want to cook the flour to get the raw taste out.)
Slowly pour in the shrimp stock, stirring and letting it thicken.  Stir in skim milk and cream.  Add in Lea & Perrins,  Old Bay seasoning, and sherry.  Taste test.  Adjust seasoning, if desired, by adding salt, pepper, and/or more Old Bay and/or sherry.  If you don't have sherry, white wine works in a pinch.  Add shrimp and crab meat, being careful not to break up lumps of crab.  Heat through.  Ladle into serving bowls.  Top with fresh thyme, scallions, and a few drops of Texas Pete.

And now, the step-by-steps:
Heat the butter until foamy.  Medium heat.
Add in the celery and onion.
Cook for a minute.

Add in the flour and cook for two minutes, stirring, to cook out the raw taste.

Sloooooooowly, stir in the stock...
...letting it thicken.

Slowly pour in milk and cream.

Stir in the L&P, sherry, and Old Bay.
Taste test.  Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Taste test.  Adjust, if needed.

Drop in shrimp and crab meat.  Heat through. 
Ladle into bowls.
Top with fresh thyme, scallions, and drops of Texas Pete.

I like to serve with nice buttered toast from my homemade baguettes.

Seafood in every bite.  Just as it should be.


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