Sunday, January 14, 2024

Rosie Make Oyster And Shrimp Bisque/Chowder.

 It’s been cold here on the Outer Banks lately and I’m having a hard time warming up.  Today, I put a dent in the nip with an oyster and shrimp bisque/chowder that really hit the spot.

What is a bisque, you ask?  A bisque is a French style seafood soup traditionally made with a stock from crustacean shells and a good amount of cream and a thickening agent of some sort.  Generally, it’s very creamy and smooth.

A chowder is typically chunky, with bits of potato and meats in it.

I’m combining the two.  I’m making a seafood soup with shrimp and oysters.  I’m using the shrimp shells to make shrimp stock and I’m using the oyster liqueur - both for my broth ...  to make it seafoody.  I’m adding cream to it …  to make it creamy.  I’m adding sherry to it … to make it alkie.  And I’m using potatoes in there … to make it potatoey, and to thicken it up naturally with the potato starch.  I’m combining the best of both worlds.

This concoction is perfect for the weather we’ve been having.  I like to get warmed up from the inside out and this bisque/chowder just hit all my culinary happy spots.

I served it with saltines, for a bit of crunch.  Lacking them, you could use oyster crackers, croutons, or toast.  I just like something with texture to contrast with the creaminess of the soup.
ROSIE NOTE:  With soup "recipes," you don't really need to worry about exact amounts here.  A handful of vegetables here, a cup or two of liquid there, it's not going to make much difference. 

I started with the shrimp stock.  I thawed out a bag of shrimp (maybe 12 oz.) and shelled and de-tracted the shrimp.  Yes. I say de-tract, not de-vein, since that black line running down the back of the shrimp is the digestive tract, not a vein.  Save the shells; they’re going into the stock.

Medium size stock pan.  Put in about a tablespoon each oil and butter.  Medium heat.  When the butter melts and sizzles, throw in a handful of coarsely chopped carrots, celery, and onion (I don’t even bother to remove the skin from the onion.), and the shrimp shells.  Add in a teaspoon of kosher salt and a tablespoon of whole peppercorns.  Stir and cook until the shells turn pink.  Then pour in about 5-6 cups water.  Reduce heat to low.  And keep at bare simmer for about 30 minutes.

While the stock was stocking, I started on the rest of my soup.  I diced 2 potatoes and chopped 1 onion.  Added it to 1 TB each butter and oil in another pot.  Stirred around a bit - maybe 3-4 minutes, then added about 1-2 cups water, just to cover.  Cook on low until potato is tender.

Now to add a thickener.  Generally, I use a roux to thicken a soup.  A roux is equal parts butter (or oil) and flour, which you cook, stirring, until you cook the raw out of the flour and it gets a nice nutty flavor.  You can cook to different degrees of color (light tan to brown) depending on your final product.  After cooking the roux, you slowly add your liquid, stirring, until you have the consistency you want.  

That said, I’m not making a roux this time to thicken.  I’m using what’s called beurre manié, or kneaded butter.  The reason for this is because I’ve already got a liquid that my potatoes have been cooking in.  I’m not exactly starting from scratch, so I have to add the thickener to the liquid that’s already there.  For the beurre manié, I knead together equal parts of softened butter and flour - maybe 3 TB each, fully mixing them together with my fingers. Then I drop that little dough ball into the liquid, stirring, and let it work its magic.  The soup will thicken quite nicely and smoothly.  If you just add flour to the liquid, it would clump and form doughy lumps.  Since the butter coats the flour in the beurre manié, it’s incorporated smoothly into your soup.  Cook the liquid (low heat) until it gets quite thick.

  By this time, your shrimp stock should be ready.  Strain the liquid and discard the shells, celery, carrots, and onion.  Slowly add about a cup of the stock, stirring, into the thickened potato soup mixture.  Next you want to add the cream.  I used 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream.  Then I added a good shot of sherry.  Taste test!  Adjust seasonings.  Perhaps more kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, or more sherry.  If you like the consistency, fine.  If you want thicker, add in a tablespoon at a time of beurre manié, cooking and stirring.  It’s up to you.  If you want it thinner, add more stock or milk/cream.

At low heat and bare simmer, I added in my shrimp and oysters with their liqueur.  At least a dozen each.  Shrimp will be ready in about a minute or two, depending on size.  Oysters are already ready.

Ladle into bowls.  Crack some pepper on top.  Give it some sliced green onions.  Maybe a few shakes of Tabasco.  Oyster crackers or saltines.

And that, my friend, will warm your innards.

Now for the step-by-steps:
For the shrimp stock:  Oil and butter into stock pot.  Heat until butter bubbles.  Add in onion, carrots, celery.
Add in shrimp shells.
Stir and cook until shells turn pink.

Add in water.
Let it barely simmer. About 30 minutes.

While the stock is stocking, start on the potatoes.

Melt butter in pot.  Add diced potatoes and onions.

Cook medium high a few minutes, then add water to cover.
Potatoes cooking on left.  Shrimp stock on right.

Stock is ready to strain.

Beurre manié is ready to add to the potato pot.

Drop it in.
Heat and stir until thickened.
Really thickened.
Add in a cup or so of shrimp stock.

Oysters and their liqueur on left.  Cup of cream on right.
Add in the cream.
If you want it thicker, you can always add more beurre manié.

I always like a good splash of sherry.

Drop in shrimp.  However many you want.  I had at least a dozen.  Cook a minute or so.

Then I added in the oysters and their liqueur.
Just heat through.

And it’s ready!



No comments: