Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Redemption of the Frozen and the Canned.

Recently on the Food Network show "Next Iron Chef: Redemption", the chefs had to transform a canned good into a five star dish.  After all the whining and complaining, many accomplished what they thought to be the impossible.  Honestly, I did not feel their pain, I did not have any sympathy for them; the average home cook doesn't get the privilege of five star ingredients.  Depending on the average financial budget and the goods available in the supermarkets, the average home cook works with many canned, boxed and/or frozen goods.

Now I have explained before that Utah is a landlocked state and fresh fish is near to impossible to be obtained.  The fish I have to work with is frozen or canned; no shame in that if you can make it into a great dish though.  So, if those potential Iron Chefs don't like that idea, then be generous and send me even half your yearly budget for fresh ingredients.  Thank you, thank you very much.  Anyway, I am going to go through how to make a seafood stock that you can use to make a rich seafood bisque which includes ravioli and shrimp.  I'll write up the recipe for Seafood Stock as if you can find the fresh shellfish, but then tell you what to do if you cannot.

Seafood Stock (fresh shellfish available)


6 cups combination of shrimp, crab and lobster shells, broken up
1/2 cup white wine
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 large stalk celery, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbsp fresh parsley leaves
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
water to cover


Place all ingredients in a large stock pot and cover with water until one inch over all ingredients.  Set heat on high and let cook until water just begins to bubble; reduce heat to medium and let cook for one hour.  During cooking, skim off any foam that may develop; do not let the liquid boil, reduce heat if necessary.

Use a cheesecloth to strain the stock into a large bowl; discard the ingredients.  The stock can be used immediately or up to 3 days later if stored in the refrigerator.  The stock can also be frozen for future use.

Makes 2 1/2 quarts.

Now if you can only find frozen shrimp which is most readily available, don't panic as you have two choices.  Simply make shrimp stock, or add clam juice which is available in cans or bottles.  For the clam juice, put 4 cups of juice into a large sauce pan; add 1 tsp fresh thyme and 1 tsp fresh chopped basil.   Start with high heat until bubbles begin to form; reduce to low and let simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain through cheesecloth and the clam stock is now ready to be added to your large stock pot with the water you need to add.

The seafood stock is now ready for creating an indulgent seafood bisque; rich, creamy and full of flavor.

Seafood Bisque


2 cups seafood stock
2 Tbsp tomato paste
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
4 cups heavy cream
salt and ground black pepper to taste


In a large sauce pan, heat the stock, tomato paste and butter on high heat until butter is melted; whisk in flour until completely incorporated.  Continue whisking as the heavy cream is slowly poured into the stock.  Bring liquid to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes.  Add salt and pepper if necessary.

Makes 6 servings.

Now lets add some ravioli and seafood to that bisque and make one heck of a meal.  I like spoiling my husband and myself, so instead of using plain cheese ravioli, I used Buitoni's Shrimp and Lobster Ravioli.  I cooked it according to package directions, but instead of using the garlic butter sauce it comes with, I add the drained pasta to soup bowls and spooned the bisque over it.  I had also purchased medium shrimp which I shelled, deveined, sauteed in butter until just turning pink; added diced tomatoes, diced celery, diced carrot (cooked before hand till just softened) and thyme leaves and finished the shrimp up.  Into the soup bowls this combo all went and wallah: Seafood Bisque with Ravioli and Shrimp.  If you don't want to add the vegetables, that's fine; remember, it's your creation in the long run.

So here's my meal using frozen and canned ingredients; maybe the potential Iron Chefs could do better, but I made mine with love.

Mary Cokenour