Just Messing Around in the Kitchen Part #2 (Crawfish Bisque)
Something I love to find in the supermarket is cooked crawfish. Now I have had the frozen tails and found the kind of rubbery but what make the whole cooked crawfish special is that, in addition to the meat being better, you have the makings for a great stock. By boiling the crawfish shells you get a richness and complexity you can’t get from shrimp shells. What’s missing in the shrimp shells is the head and all the fatty goodness that goes with it. Also the Crawfish have been seasoned before cooking and that comes through in the stock. I have used the crawfish stock to make gumbo in the past but wanted something different this time. I decided on Bisque.
I went to work peeling the Crawfish tails which is a fairly tedious venture but well worth it. Afterwards I put all the shells in a pot of water and set them to boiling. In about 30 minutes the entire kitchen smell of stock (a heavenly smell to me). Not being content with just boiling I decided to use my hand mixer to grind up the shells to get extra flavor. Most folks don’t know it but this the the key to getting all the flavor you can out of a shellfish stock. I used to work in a restaurant that ground up the lobster shell for the lobster bisque and I can tell you the process works. The next step was to strain my stock through a fine mesh. I had some cheesecloth left over from making Ricotta cheese and this worked fine. Next I wanted to thicken my stock so I brought it to a boil again and thickened it with a Burre Manie. This is a paste of flour and butter used to thicken liquids. This worked fine and I got the richness of the butter as a bonus. I then added 1/2 pt. of heavy whipping cream. I didn’t have any Sherry for my Bisque so I decided to omit it. In the end I added my Crawfish tails. I didn’t really measure much while making this Bisque/Soup. Still it turned out really good.
Next time you spot cooked Crawfish in the store don’t pass it by. It is well worth the work to get something exceptional from, these little mudbugs (as they are called down South).