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~ Save Those Shrimp Shells!!! Because I Said So!!! (How to: Make a Basic Shrimp Stock a la Melanie) ~

6a0120a8551282970b017d431e0c64970cYou've heard me say it so many times, "you only get out of something what you put into it", and, like The Constitution of the United States, homemade stock is the blueprint to the success or failure of many a recipe.  You've watched me post more than a few shrimp dishes here on Kitchen Encounters over the past couple of years.  Did you ever wonder what I do with all of those shells?  Well, I stuff them (over a period of time) in a ziplock bag and stash said bag in my freezer.  When I accumulate 2 pounds of shells I make stock.  Why?  Not because I have nothing better to do with my life, but because the shells from uncooked shrimp are loaded with flavor.

IMG_5428But, isn't it easier just to buy stock at the grocery store?

51TI0tCYv-L._AA160_Yes, if you're lucky enough to find shellfish/seafood stock in your market, which, here in Central PA, more often than not, I can't.  I've been known to order it via the internet, but I can tell you this:  it is a compromise and I never feel my end result is quite as good as it could have been if I'd used my real-deal stock.  Besides, one of the fundamentals of good cooking is to waste nothing, or as little as possible, so this gives me an opportunity to feel good about myself.  And, for your information, I do the same thing with certain chicken, beef, veal and fish bones.  However, I draw the line at, and do not save, fish heads.  'Nuff said.  We all have our limits.

Unlike "brown" stocks (chicken, beef, duck, shellfish, veal, etc.), which take hours of roasting and slow simmering to produce that silky, rich tasting, brown liquid which becomes gelatinous as it cools, my basic shrimp stock takes little work and almost no time to make.  From start to finish, in about 1-2 hours (depending on how much I am making), I've got a light, bright, flavorful start to any number of my favorite dishes: classic shrimp bisque or bouillabaisse, Italian risotto, Thai soup, Indian curry, and, many of my beloved New Orleans favorites (gumbo, jamalaya, etc).  

IMG_54452  pounds shrimp shells, peeled from uncooked shrimp, thawed 

1/2  cup diced yellow or sweet onion*

1/2  cup carrot*

1/2  cup diced celery*

4  tablespoons olive oil

6  cups cold water

2  cups white wine

the peel from 1 lemon (no white pith, just thin strips and pieces of the yellow exterior)

2  bay leaves

2  teaspoons sea salt

1/4  teaspoon red pepper flakes

* Note:  Culinarily, this vegetable mixture is referred to as a "mirepoix" (mihr-PWAH), or, a mixture of diced onion, carrot and celery (sometimes herbs) that are sauteed in butter, fat or oil, and used as the base to season sauces, stocks, soups or stews.

IMG_5479 IMG_5463~ Step 1. Prep and place the onion, carrot and celery in an 8-quart stockpot and add the olive oil.  Adjust heat to medium-high and saute, just until the vegetables have started to soften and exude moisture, stirring frequently, about 4-5 minutes.  Do not overcook or allow to brown.

IMG_5491 IMG_5483~ Step 2. Add the shells and stir until they start to firm up a bit and turn pink, about 2-3 minutes.  


~ Step 3.  Add the water, wine, lemon peel, bay leaves, sea salt and red pepper flakes.  Bring to a boil over high heat.

IMG_5515~ Step 4. Adjust heat to a gentle simmer, partially cover, and continue to cook for 45 minutes.  During this time, lift the lid and press down on the shrimp to bathe them in the simmering liquid.

~ Step 5.  Remove from heat, cover pot, and allow to steep for 1 hour.

IMG_5524~ Step 6.  Place a fine mesh strainer over a medium-sized bowl and slowly pour the stock through the strainer, pressing down firmly (using the back of a spoon) to extract every last drop of liquid from the shells that fall into the strainer. You will have about 6-cups of stock, which will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or, can be portioned and frozen in food storage containers for 6-8 months.

You can thank me later:

IMG_5534Save Those Shrimp Shells!!!  Because I Said So!!! (How to:  Make a Basic Shrimp Stock a la Melanie):  Recipe yields 6 cups of shrimp stock.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; vegetable peeler; 8-quart stockpot w/lid; large slotted spoon; fine mesh strainer; 3-6, 1-2 cup food storage containers with tight-fitting lids

6a0120a8551282970b014e5f429e99970c-320wiCook's Note:   Making a basic shrimp stock is very similar to making a basic vegetable stock.

You can find my recipe for ~ How to:  Make a Basic Vegetable Stock a la Lidia ~, in Categories 14, 15 or 22.  It is based upon Lidia Bastianich's basic recipe for vegetable stock, and, I learned how to make it, from her, in person, when she was doing a cooking demonstration for WPSU-TV right here in Happy Valley, PA.

"We are all in this food world toether." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)


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