It’s no secret I was a little disappointed with the the Great Lobster Bake of ‘09, but it was still a day spent sitting outside with friends, drinking Pimms and beers, and cracking open fresh seafood, so I have no right to complain. In fact, despite the cooking frustrations, looking at the foot tall pile of emptied shells and carcases I realized that there was still one more thing I could try my hand at making: lobster stock!
As excited as I get about making a proper dish or trying a new technique, lately I’ve really been getting amped up when given an opportunity to make a cooking staple from scratch that I can save andreuse as I see fit. And given how much stock I was able to make with the already cooked shells, I can’t recommend enough how fantastic it is take advantage of crafting up this wonderfully deceadant treat.
Lobster stock, like most seafood stocks, is much easier to make than the fattier chicken/beef cousins. The cook time requires only a fraction of the overnight low simmer techniques expected for beef and chicken stocks. My favorite part is how little skimming was involved. Nurse out a little scum that floats to the top and presto, you have a galleon of amazing stock that can turn an average seafood dish into something tranporting. Two words: lobster risotto. Do I really need to go on about whether or not this is worth it?
4-6 “used” lobster cavities (mouth part and roe sack removed) broken into useable chunks
1 carrot per 3-4 lobsters
1 yellow onion per 3-4 lobsters
3-4 fresh sprigs of thyme
10-12 cups of cold water (or enough to completely cover the lobster shells in the pot)
I ended up using two of my biggest pots since I had alot of shells. About 20 cups in size each.
Kitchen Soundtrack: Radiohead – In Rainbows
This is quick and painless. Prep your onions and carrots with a rough chop. One celery stock could go in too, but I didn’t have any handy. Toss in your pot on medium heat with some olive oil and saute until tender – about 10 minutes.
Take a pile of lobster shells and break them down by removing any roe sack you find in the head cavity. Remove the “face” since there’s only some impurties in there and you’re not losing anything. See all that stuff in the below picture? All good. Use it. Once broken down, into the pot with the veg. Breaking the shell parts down should have allowed you to cram more lobster in there than if you had just used large pieces.
Fill pot with cold water and turn up the heat to medium and cover. You do NOT want to crank the heat up, the water should heat gradually otherwise you’ll lose flavor. Once water comes to a strong simmer, turn down to low and let simmer for 1 – 1.5 hours
After about 45 – 60 minutes you’ll start to see scuzy foam float to the top. Using the edge of a spatual skim the foam and any other funk off. This is an annoying and tedious part of stock making but nessisary to create clarity and get rid of the nasty bits.
After 1.5 hours and fragrant but not overpowering, strain into a colainder/fine mesh strainer reserving the stock in a seperate bowl.
Rinse out you pot and return the stock leaving it on low heat and give it 10 more minutes for scum to foat to the top and skim away. At this point you could let it simmer and reduce to concetrate the flavors or just start packaging the stock for long term use. With veg stock I would conentrate the stock more and put it into ice cub trays to add to water later, but this time around I wanted whole cups of straight stock in baggies.
When you’re ready and stock has cooled, get out a bunch of zip lock bags and a cup of some sort. Ziplock bag in cup. Ladle stock in bag. Seal. Repeat.
Place bags on tray, into freezer for 48 hours. Now you have lobster stock on a whim. Get ready for some seriously good meals.