“No thing ever goes to waste.” You cannot disappoint your immigrant grandmother. These words are more than a catch phrase, it is a philosophy on life, and more importantly, a philosophy on food.
This recipe makes flavorful use of any leftover lobster heads and bodies. Don’t toss out these protective skeletons after the lobster meat has already been removed and enjoyed in a sloppy lobster roll or a volcanic fra diavolo pasta. Deep, unchartered tastes lay within each lobster shell crater. Extracting these luscious and rich flavors make for a seductive bisque. Inside the head is a whitish, fatty substance called “lobster butter”, made for crafting broths. Shots of sherry/cognac, sprinkles of spices, and a dash of heavy cream heighten the sensations. And needless to write, this lobster bisque is wonderful solo or paired with other items, like a crab cake.
Ingredients (serves 3-4 people)
For lobster stock:
- 4 lobster heads and bodies (with cooked lobster meat already removed)
- 1/4 red onion
- 2 celery stalks
- 2 carrots
- 10 cups water
- 1/2 cup sherry or cognac
For lobster bisque:
- 8-10 cups lobster stock
- 1/4 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup sherry
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 2-4 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 4 tablespoons butter
Season the lobster heads/bodies with salt and pepper. In a medium sized pot over medium-high heat, sear the lobster bodies in olive oil. We want to gently crust the shells for 5 minutes. Add the remaining lobster stock ingredients, along with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture up to a boil, then cover and simmer for two hours. Your domain will start to smell like a pier.
Strain the lobster stock through a fine sieve (or a coffee filter) and store in a large mixing bowl.
In the same medium sized pot, once it receives a quick rinse, saute the onion and garlic in a mixture of olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the Old Bay and Paprika and have everything saute for 5 minutes. The vegetables should be translucent and getting soft. Add half of the 1/4 cup of sherry and allow it to soak and reduce by half into the onion mixture.
Add two tablespoons of butter and flour, prepare a light white roux. Fold the roux into the onion mixture and add the tomato paste. Fold the tomato paste into the mixture of onions and roux. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sherry and the lobster stock. Make sure all the ingredients are incorporated into one another using a large wooden spoon. Bring the mixture up to a boil, and then cover and simmer it for 1 hour.
After the hour, pour in the heavy cream and season the lobster bisque with salt and pepper. Readjust the seasonings – sherry, salt/pepper, Old Bay, Paprika – to your preference. If the bisque is too thin for your liking, add more cream or a mixture of butter that is mixed with flour.
Serve the bisque warm as a soup with toasted bread or as a sauce with a fried crab cake.