Monday, July 16, 2018

Crab Bisque

I adapted this recipe from Neiman Marcus' crab bisque which I came across in the LA Times' food section many, many moons ago. I added more veggies, tomato paste and herbs to the stock and a flour slurry instead of roux to help thicken the bisque. Oh, and a nice splash of brandy at the end just before serving doesn't hurt either! The low and slow-simmered stock is key to imbuing this rich bisque with its divinely aromatic flavor. 

1 lb. snow crab legs or clusters, cut into approximately 3" sections

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium leek, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
Salt & pepper
1/4 cup brandy or dry sherry
4 tbsp. tomato paste
1 bay leaf
3-4 sprigs fresh tarragon
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
4-5 sprigs fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
3 8-oz. bottles of clam juice 
6 cups water

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup hot stock

2 cups heavy cream

1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 lb. canned or fresh lump crabmeat

2 tbsp. brandy
Snipped chives or chopped scallions (green parts only) for garnish
Cayenne pepper

1. Heat olive oil and butter over medium high heat in a large stock pot (I use enameled cast iron) and add the onions, leeks and garlic; season with a little salt and pepper and saute until tender. 

2. Add the carrots, celery and tomatoes, season with a little more salt and pepper and saute for 1-2 minutes; add the crab leg sections, tomato paste and 1/4 cup of brandy. Cook on high for about 30 seconds to deglaze. 

3. Stir in the bay leaf, tarragon, thyme, parsley and black peppercorns. 

4. Add the bottled clam juice and 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover, and cook for 2 hours.

5. Strain the soup, discarding the crab shells and veggies. Return the soup back to the pan and bring back to a boil. 

6. Make the flour slurry: place 1/2 cup of flour into a medium bowl or large measuring cup; add 1/2 cup of the hot stock and whisk the mixture constantly until well blended.

7. Add the flour slurry to the soup, whisking to incorporate, then simmer for 5-10 minutes until it starts to thicken.

8. Add the heavy cream and bring to a boil. Taste and adjust for seasonings (I ended up adding 1 tsp. black pepper, 2 tsp. kosher salt, and 1 tsp. sugar). Add 2/3 of the crab and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for another 5-10 minutes or until the bisque is nicely thickened. 

9. Just before serving, stir in the remaining crab and 2 tbsp. of brandy. Turn of heat and ladle into serving bowls. Garnish with snipped chives or finely chopped green onion. 

A great accompaniment would be garlic French bread or croutons. 

Chopped tomatoes, leek, onion, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, sprigs of thyme, tarragon and parsley. 

Saute the onion, leeks and garlic in olive oil and butter until softened. Season with salt & pepper. 

Add tomatoes, carrots and celery to the pan. 

Season with a little salt and pepper.

These are snow crab clusters. 

 Cut them into large 3" sections with a heavy knife or cleaver.

 Add the crab sections.

Add the tomato paste and 1/4 cup of brandy. 

Add the bay leaves and herb sprigs.  

Brandy and bottled clam juice.  

 Add the clam juice and 6 cups of water; bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook on a low simmer for 2 hours.

Strain the stock. 

Stir the flour slurry into the boiling strained stock and whisk constantly until well combined. Continue cooking 5-10 minutes until somewhat thickened. Add 2/3 of the crab and bring to a boil.

This is a 1-lb can of crab meat from Trader Joe's. The claw meat pieces are on the small side, but they work fine in the bisque. Of course if you can find and afford fresh lump crab meat, that would be even mo betta! 

 Stir in the heavy cream and bring to a boil; Season with additional salt, pepper, and sugar. Reduce heat and simmer for another 10-15 minutes or until the bisque is nicely thickened. Turn off the heat and stir in the remaining crab and 2 tbsp. of brandy just before serving. 

 Ladle the bisque into individual serving bowls and garnish with snipped chives or finely sliced scallion. Sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper if desired. 

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