Sunday, October 28, 2007

Shrimp Bisque

Sometimes a dish seems much more intimidating than it really is. I love both shrimp & lobster bisques & enjoy them whenever we go out to our favorite seafood restaurants, but had never really thought of making them at home. Then I saw Ina Garten's recipe for shrimp bisque & decided to give it a try. It was actually pretty simple. I had never made my own seafood stock, but that was easy too. If you don't want to make your own stock, you may be able to find it at specialty grocery stores or online. But in less than 1 1/2 hours, you can have your own. If you prepare the stock in advance & have it in the freezer, you could easily have the bisque ready in less than 30 minutes. The end result is a velvety & rich bisque that I know I'll be making again & again.

Copyright 2006, Barefoot Contessa at Home

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved
4 cups seafood stock
3 tablespoons good olive oil
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (3 leeks)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic (3 cloves)
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 cup Cognac or brandy
1/4 cup dry sherry
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
1/3 cup tomato paste
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the shrimp shells and seafood stock in a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and reserve the stock. Add enough water to make 3 3/4 cups.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the leeks and cook them for 10 minutes over medium-low heat, or until the leeks are tender but not browned. Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute. Add the cayenne pepper and shrimp and cook over medium to low heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the Cognac and cook for 1 minute, then the sherry and cook for 3 minutes longer. Transfer the shrimp and leeks to a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until coarsely pureed.

In the same pot, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium-low heat for 1 minute, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the half-and-half and cook, stirring with a whisk, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the pureed shrimp, the stock, tomato paste, salt, and pepper and heat gently until hot but not boiling. Season, to taste, and serve hot.

Seafood Stock
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 cups shrimp shells (from about a pound of shrimp)
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup good white wine
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
10 springs fresh thyme, including stems

Warm the oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the shrimp shells, onions, carrots and celery and saute for 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Add 1 1/2 quarts of water, the white wine, tomato paste, salt, pepper and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour. Strain through a sieve, pressing the solids. You should have approximately 1 quart of stock. You can make up the difference with water or wine if needed.

Tonia's Notes: I did large chops on the vegetables for the stock, quartering the onions & cutting the celery & carrots into thirds. I also saved the carrots after straining, just like I do when making chicken stock; they make a fantastic snack.

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