I was pondering a dinner for some friends on New Years Day and what I would like to serve. I remembered I had a few pounds of frozen spot prawns in the freezer. We bought them straight off the spot prawn boat this past summer. Since it is a New Years Day meal, it should be a little special, and I think shrimp bisque is very special, I will serve it as a first course. It takes some time to make, but once the prawns are peeled and the broth made, it’s a fairly easy process going forward.
Let’s make bisque!!
1 pound of large shrimp, peeled and deveined, keep the shells
4 cups of seafood stock
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cups of chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2-3 leeks)
1 tablespoon of chopped garlic, about 3 cloves
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup Cognac or brandy
14 cup dry sherry
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half n half
1/3 cup tomato paste
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Place the shrimp shells and seafood stock in a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and reserve the stock. Add enough water to make 3 3/4 cups.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot of dutch oven. Add the leeks and cook them for 10 minutes over medium low heat or until the leeks are tender but not browned. Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute. Add the cayenne pepper and shrimp and cook over medium to low heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the Cognac and cook for 1 minutes, then the sherry and cook for 3 minutes longer. Transfer the shrimp and leeks to a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until coarsely pureed.
3. In the same pot, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium low heat for 1 minutes, stirring with a whisk, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the pureed shrimp, the stock, tomato paste, salt and pepper and heat gently until hot but no boiling. Season, to taste and serve hot. I added a little tarragon for garnish and flavor, add your own favorite fresh herb. A slice of toasted baguette is also a nice touch.
Make Ahead Tip: Make the recipe up to step 3, freezing the stock and pureed shrimp mixture, separate from each other in two containers. The day before you serve the shrimp bisque, bring the frozen pureed shrimp and stock out of the freezer, letting it thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Now continue with step 3 and finish your bisque.