The Downtown Chef: Bisque of Burden

A few years back, I was running late for a cooking class with Chef Pierre when I received a troubling phone call. Apparently, my boyfriend had found more supple lips than my own. Instead of strategically plotting his demise, I attended class and made lovely crab bisque scented with fresh herbs, which entailed crushing 50 of the tiny suckers to death with a blunt object. It served as temporary relief, but sometimes, that’s all a girl needs to feel on top again. (The object used in this recipe is sharp rather than blunt, but the effect is equally satisfying.)

Crab BisqueServes 4

6 blue shell crabs, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 chopped carrot, 1 stalk chopped celery, 2 chopped shallots, 2 cloves chopped garlic, 1 bouquet garni, 3/4 cup white wine, 2 quarts fish stock, Salt, pepper and cayenne, 1 cup heavy cream, Fresh tarragon

Head on down to Chinatown and pick up a half dozen blue shell crabs. Once you’ve got them sitting idly on the kitchen counter, take a sharp object and stab the little guys behind the eyes or under the tail flap. Make sure they’re dead. Heat three tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Remove the legs and claws and place the various body parts in the pot. Move them around until they acquire color, about ten minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Discard the oil. Add two tablespoons butter, carrots, celery, shallots and garlic and bouquet garni. Sauté until lightly browned. Add wine and reduce by half. Then add the fish stock, salt pepper and cayenne if you like it hot. Simmer for 15 minutes. Place a fine sieve over the pot and place the crab shells inside. Using a heavy, blunt object, pulverize the crab shells, letting all of the liquid drain into the bisque. Mix well and then add the heavy cream. Cook for an additional 15 minutes. Strain and serve. Garnish with tarragon leaves.    


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