Shrimp are plentiful and cheaply farmed these days and cost less per pound than some breakfast cereals. They’re becoming a staple and most of the flavor is in the shell.
The chitinous exoskeleton is similar to the casings that hold lobster and crab, and form baleen inside whales. Slice them in half the long way.
A chemical called chitosan is derived from the shells and is thought to have a positive effect on cholesterol, plasma lipid and fatty acids in our blood.
All that helps fight heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Health food! So lets make shrimp bisque from the shells and be as healthy as cognac, heavy cream and butter will allow.
Chop shallot, celery and carrot to make a classic French mirepoix.
“Aromatics” are essential in making stock.
Now melt some butter, the healthy kind.
Turn and soften your vegetables gently so they don’t burn.
As they wilt, throw in several bayleaves, a few sprigs of fresh thyme and a good tablespoon of tomato paste.
Then dump in the shells, cover with a quart and a half of cold water, and bring it to a boil.
We are making a classic shrimp stock. After about a 45 minute bubble, strain it, toss the solids and hold the steaming stock in a bowl on the side while you melt more butter. Sue me. Now add flour for a roux.
Whisk constantly as the roux blends and picks up warm color.
Now measure about one half-cup or so of the Remy and ¼ teaspoon of red chile pepper. No more than ¼ teaspoon.
Pour the Remy into the hot roux, whisking, then pour in that whole bowl of stock, whisk again, turn down the heat and stir in the red pepper.
Now add the half pint of heavy cream. Keep whisking. This is my kinda health food. The aroma will be heavenly.
And that’s a basic bisque.
It’ll hold for awhile if your guests are running late.
When you are ready to serve, dump in the halved raw shrimp and heat again slowly until it simmers.
Taste and adjust the seasonings while the shrimp bubbles gently for about three or four minutes more. That’s it.
Rich, very flavorful and maybe even a bit healthy.