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Weekend project: Lobster Bisque

This past weekend I decided to make something I haven’t attempted in over a decade — a real lobster bisque. After wiping various explosions of orange goo off every surface in the kitchen, I now remember why I don’t attempt this too often. But it is kind of fun for a big project. Here’s what we did:

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Step 1: Obtain a whole bunch of lobster bodies and rinse them well. Chase away cats.

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Step 2: Cut lobster bodies into pieces, removing the eyes, stomachs (right behind the eyes) and the lungs (just under the shells of the carapace) with a pair of kitchen shears.

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Step 3: Fry lobster bodies in olive oil until they turn lobster red.

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Step 4: Add the mirepoix (chopped vegetables), which consists of leeks, onions, celery, carrot, tomato and a bit of garlic. Fry it well. Add some tomato paste to the pan and fry that, too.

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Step 5: Prepare a bouquet garni of bay leaf, thyme, parsley stem and a good handful of tarragon. Wrap it in cheesecloth and tie with string.

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Step 6: After adding the bouquet garni, add fish stock, lobster stock or even some chicken stock. (I used a mix of the last two.) Add about a half cup of rice to serve as a thickener. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for an hour.

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Step 7: Now comes the fun part. You have to blend this whole mess, shells and all. If your blender starts making funny sounds, then smack your forehead, stop it, and pull out them semi-mangled bouquet garni. You have to strain the soup through a wire mesh strainer, then give it a second pass through several thicknesses of cheesecloth to catch all the bits of shell.

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Step 8: Return to the pot. Season with salt and just a touch of cayenne pepper. Bring to the boil, then finish with cream and cognac or sherry. We went with cognac. Hard core.

The kitty is now allowed back in the kitchen.

- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog

16 comments Add your comment

Penelope

March 18th, 2013
1:54 pm

Julia would look askance at the absence of any measurements or mention of the quantity of bisque that results from your effort. Also, even with the omission of metrics, one has to think that the project would be easier if smaller portions were involved.

Art

March 18th, 2013
3:17 pm

Goodness gracious JK! Were you fixing enough for a “bisque” kitchen?? LOL! That’s a lot of bisque!! How did it turn out? I absolutely love the stuff! I think some of the best in town can be found at Hal’s.

Lorenzo

March 18th, 2013
5:51 pm

Is an ordinary blender really powerful enough to pulverize lobster shells?

Mehran Mikail

March 18th, 2013
8:39 pm

I made a huge pot of lobster bisque last weekend to serve in shot glasses as my niece’s wedding. I also pulverize the shells after simmering them for a couple of hours to get all the lobster flavor out of them. I use a heavy duty commercial Blendtec blender (same type you see sold at Costco occasionally with a blender show.) Ordinary blenders will break down on you. But I cook the shells only with tomato paste separate from other ingredients. After pulverizing them into a grainy creamy mass, I use first a large sieve and press them through, and then pour it over a large coffee filter that is fitted in a sieve over a bowl and the juices pass through within 30 minutes or so. I used to use a brand new pantyhose to press everything through only once and it works great without tearing up. By the way, adding some saffron to your recipe makes wonders in the taste. I know it is almost as expensive as gold, but well worth it.

Sharon

March 19th, 2013
3:12 am

Jack Mehoff, I agree with you 100%.

Baltisraul.......

March 19th, 2013
7:45 am

I will try this over the weekend. I will use the paella mix I purchased at Sam’s Club to make it a seafood bisque. Thanks for the grea idea.
Mehran…….to cut the cost, you could substitute turmric for the high dollar saffron. It is a great ‘working man/woman’s’ alternative.

Lori

March 19th, 2013
11:23 am

I wouldn’t switch turmeric for saffron. The real thing is SO worth it! It keeps, and just plan to make a tagine, saffron rice etc. within the next few months.

Grasshopper

March 19th, 2013
11:48 am

I prefer the alternative method of ordering it at a restaurant.

Recipes that require all those pans and appliances to make is almost never worth the trouble.

Baltisraul.......

March 19th, 2013
1:29 pm

Lori….saffron is always better than turmric but so many recipes call for saffron that the economical way to go for most folks is use the alternative spice. There is also the benifit that turmric offers, just not in the saffron class.

Baltisraul.......

March 20th, 2013
7:36 am

Grasshopper…….it does not matter what I cook, I end up using as many pots & appliances as I can put my hands on. It drives my wife nuts. Plus I never wash/rinse as I go and never close a cabinet door till the meal is finished. I am hopeless! But I am happy in my own ‘kitchen world’!

K10

March 20th, 2013
9:42 am

The only thing I can think to comment on is the cat on the counter. A cat that steps in a litter box filled with its own feces. On a counter where you prep food. Gross gross gross.

Baltisraul.......

March 20th, 2013
12:04 pm

K10…….the cat or the cook should be keel hauled. Take your pick.

Lorenzo

March 20th, 2013
12:24 pm

@K10: And you think the lobster’s gut is not filled with some pretty vile stuff, biologically speaking? Lobsters are scavengers. Fecal bacteria will be killed in the cooking process, whether from cat or lobster.

Grasshopper

March 20th, 2013
12:53 pm

The cat on the counter is indeed disgusting.

And there are many items that will be on that counter that will not be cooked Lorenzo. Ever heard of salad?

Baltisraul.......

March 20th, 2013
3:56 pm

Lorenzo……no matter your explanation, cats do not belong on the table or kitchen counter. Over the many years we have had 6 cats and they all had to be taught where not to go. The lesson was fast and non-to-pleasant for them but we never had the problem again. Well one never learned, he had to learn how to live at the golf course.

N-GA

March 20th, 2013
4:45 pm

Sharon – I can’t believe your 3:12 post made it through the censors! I’m still trying to figure out if you were just testing the blog filter or if you actually had something to contribute. I think it is the filter test.