Lobster Bisque

“No, I mentioned the bisque…”

Let me just start by saying that although I love that Seinfeld episode, I hate lobster.  Can’t stand it.  Yet I make this bisque once or twice a year because it’s my husband’s favorite.  I’ve needed his help each time I make it to get the taste and consistency just right.  Since I’m not a big lobster person, I also have no interest in buying live lobsters and killing them to make this… so, if that’s also not up your alley, this bisque is for you!  I’ve heard it’s fantastic.

Warning: Estimated prep time is at least 3 hours and it makes about 20 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 lobster tails in shells, 5 sets of claws (I usually get the tails raw and in the shell and the claws already cooked and de-shelled)
    • 20 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato paste, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped celery, including leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped carrot
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  • 6 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup sherry
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp salt, or to taste (I would start it at least 1 tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup + 3 tbsp cornstarch

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Fill a large stockpot with 20 cups of salted water and bring to a boil
  • Boil the tails for 6-8 minutes or until a fork pierces the meat and it is tender – you don’t want to over cook it!
  • Remove the tails with tongs and set aside to cool for a bit – once they’ve cooled remove the meat from the shells and set aside
  • The water in the pot is now your flavorful lobster stock – you’ve got a lot, but you will probably use most of it.  Place 10 cups of the stock and the lobster tail shells into a new pot (or if you’re like me and only have one really large stock pot, transfer the other 10 cups into a bowl and set aside)
  • Place the pot over low heat and add one cup of tomato paste, simmer for 1 hour 30 mins
  •  Now it’s time to make your vegetable stock.  While the lobster stock is simmering, place onions, celery, carrots, thyme, parsley and saffron in a large saute pan, add 4 cups stock from original stock pot and put on high heat for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes
  • Add 1/2 cup tomato paste and black pepper – turn down heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes – at this point I keep the stock nearby and add a ladle full to the pan if it looks like it’s getting too dry (I end up adding in about 2 ladles of stock)
  • Press entire contents of saute pan through fine mesh sieve into a bowl – you will need to use your hands to really press the juice out of the vegetables (this is the most annoying step)
  • At this point, your lobster stock should be just about finished simmering – place the contents of the pot through a fine mesh sieve, you should have 8 cups of red stock.  If you do not, don’t fret!  That’s why you saved the original lobster stock – add in the original stock through the mesh sieve until you have 8 cups of red stock and then add the vegetable stock to the red lobster stock
  • Now it’s time to finish the bisque (finally!).  Put put pot on medium heat. Add in the paprika, cayenne and salt.  Add heavy cream slowly, using whisk to blend. Add sherry. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes; bisque will thicken slightly
  • Mix cornstarch with 1/4 cup water and slowly add to bisque with whisk. Simmer on low heat for another 20 minutes.  If you like this consistency, stop here.  If you want a thicker bisque, add more cornstarch.  We’ve settled on an additional 3 tbsp, which I mix with 3 tbsp water before I add it to the bisque.  Most importantly, TASTE the bisque!  I find that it needs a lot of salt to really bring out the flavors, but then again, I love salt.  So, I suggest seasoning as I’ve suggested and then adding more to your taste
  • To serve, chop the lobster and place pieces in a bowl and top with the 1 cup of bisque
    • If you’re going to be transporting the bisque or serving it at a later time to a crowd, I would just chop up all of the lobster into bite size pieces and add it to the pot of bisque before serving
    • To take it over the top, I take a cookie cutter and cut out circles of Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry (brush with egg wash and bake at 375°F for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown) and top off each bowl with a delicious round of puff pastry – I wish I enjoyed this!

Source: Adapted from Food Network