Shellfish Broth with White Wine and Herbs
Never throw shellfish shells away, because you can use them to make a wonderful broth. In the following recipe you can use shells from crab, shrimp or lobster, or a combination of these. If you are using broken shells (from a cracked crab, for example) you do not have to break them smaller. With whole shells, put them in a plastic bag and hit with a meat hammer to crush them. A rolling pin rolling over them would also work.
The shells should first be roasted for 10 minutes. Although this is an optional step it really brings out their flavor. Next you need to simmer the shells on the stove, and this coaxes out all the wonderful seafood flavor. Foam will rise up to the surface and you should remove this every few minutes using a slotted spoon. The foam is the impurities coming out of the shells. Do not let the broth boil at any point. A low simmer is best.
There are various ways to use shellfish broth and you might like to freeze some since you will get 2½ quarts of broth using this recipe. Adding cooked seafood to shellfish broth gives you a seafood soup, and you can add any kind of fish or seafood you like. Alternatively the broth can be used to flavor risotto or pasta dishes, or even served alone as a simple appetizer. As well as the shells you need vegetables, herbs, white wine and tomato paste to make this exquisite shellfish broth.
- 5 cups broken shells from crab, shrimp and/or lobster
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- 10 whole peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 chopped yellow onion
- 3 parsley sprigs
- 1 chopped carrot
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 chopped celery stalk
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- Roast the shells at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes.
- This step is optional but worthwhile because it brings out the flavor so nicely.
- Put them in a stockpot and cover with an inch of water.
- That means cover them with water then add another inch on top.
- Heat the shells in the water until the water reaches a simmer, then turn the heat down and cook without stirring.
- Keep the temperature just below a simmer and do not let it boil.
- Skim off the foam which comes up to the surface, using a slotted spoon.
- Cook the shells in this way for an hour, skimming off the foam often.
- Put the parsley, thyme and bay leaves in a cheesecloth and secure with kitchen string.
- When the foam stops coming up, add the carrots, onions, tomato paste, celery, wine, peppercorns and the herb mixture.
- Bring the broth to a simmer and let it cook for 30 minutes.
- Skim off any foam that rises up.
- Add the salt and take the pot off the heat.
- Strain the stock through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a pot or bowl.
- Discard the solids.
- Use the stock immediately, refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze until required.
The broth has all the solids removed but you can see from the picture its rich, reddish color. In the photo we have added scallops, shrimp, mussels and fish to the broth, so you can see how easy it is to convert the broth into a seafood soup. Of course if you do not wish to add the seafood you do not have to. Adding seafood means you can serve this as a main dish rather than as an appetizer. If you have shellfish shells left over from a meal just freeze them until you have sufficient to make this fantastic shellfish broth.
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