Lobster / Shrimp Broth
Google "lobster broth" and you'll find a good variety of recipes, all pretty much along the same lines (lobster bodies, tomatoes wine, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, aromatics, some chile pepper and a long slow simmer). My recipe for this broth was adapted from one presented by Jasper White in his "Lobster at Home" – a wonderful book that opens the door to all the other things you can do with lobster besides boil them – combined with my Red Shrimp Broth recipe. As White mentions in his book, making lobster broth isn't an exact sicence, so it changes subtly each time I make it according to what I have on hand.
Jasper White has been an inspiration to me for years. An award-winning chef who has had a varied career – which fortunately included the writing of "Lobster at Home" – and a Culinary Instiute of America graduate, he founded Jasper's, a popular restaurant in the 80's in Boston's North End. Jasper's is often cited as the first to introduce contemporary American cuisine in Boston, and I was fortunate enough to eat (and learn) there many times.
In 2000 White opened Jasper White's Summer Shack in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a casual restaurant specializing in traditional New England seafood. Since then he's opened three more Summer Shacks, in Boston, Hingham, Massachusetts and at the Monhegan Sun resort in Uncasville, Connecticut. The Summer Shack was nominated in 2001 for the James Beard Foundation Award (Best New Restaurant category) and has appeared in Sauveur Magazine's Top 100 list.
I have a good bit of freezer space so as I prepare various seafood dishes I put aside all the shirmp shells and lobster carcasses produced along the way. When I've got a big bagful I make a new supply of this broth, usually about every two months. It's a bit of a chore but if fills the house with the most tantalizing aroma, and when completed a deep feeling of wealth and comfort descends upon me as I contemplate the new supply of lobster-ey goodness waiting to go into the freezer and eventually into my cooking.
Lobster / Shrimp BrothAdapted from various sources, principally Jasper White's "Lobster at Home."
Yield: about a gallon.
- About 2 1/2 pounds lobster bodies, emply lobster shells, and shrimp heads/shells
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 10 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
- 4 medium onions, peeled and sliced (or an equivalent amount of leek tops, washed and sliced)
- 4 celery stalks, washed and chopped
- 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 bulb fennel, chopped, if available (or 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, cracked)
- 1 1/2 gallons water
- 750 ml dry white wine
- 1 28-ounce can peeled tomatoes, cut up, with juice
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon saffron
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 6 sprigs fresh tarragon
- 6 sprigs fresh parsley
1. Split the lobster bodies lengthwise and remove the head sacs. Toss the bodies and lobster shells in 1 tablespoon of the oil and roast them on a baking sheet at 400º for about 40 minutes, turning once.
2. Meanwhile, sauté the onions (or leeks), garlic, chopped fennel (if using), carrots and celery in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil for about 20-25 minutes on medium-low heat. Place the vegetables in a large stockpot and deglaze the pan with water, adding it to the stockpot.
3. Add the water, wine and tomatoes to the stockpot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and add the lobster bodies, lobster shells and shrimp shells, deglazing the lobster-baking sheet with a few ladlesful of liquid from the stockpot. Add the peppercorns, red pepper flakes, saffron, bay leaves, thyme, tarragon and parsley.
4. Simmer uncovered for at least 2 hours - there should be definite bubbling but not a rolling boil.
5. Allow to cool, then remove the lobster shells. Puree in batches in a food processor and then force through a chinoise or food mill to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids.
Freeze in variously sized containers, marked with the date. Use within 2 months.
Note: Do not add salt, since in some recipes (like risotto) the broth will be further concentrated and if salted to taste at this point could be too salty when reduced.