Don’t Throw Away the Lobster Shells!


Did I tell you that I lucked into lobster heaven?! My friend was celebrating a birthday on the coast and decided to bring back half a dozen live lobsters. I made her a red velvet cake and we boiled up the lobsters and had ourselves a decadent little lunch.  Once the lobsters had been boiled and picked and we were fully stuffed, we started to clean up.

I freaked out and demanded that all lobster ‘garbage’ be saved! Don’t throw away one bit! I had a secret plan the whole time, and I needed the shells to accomplish it. 

Well I salvaged the shells and the plan was put into motion.  I would have Lobster Broth in a matter of hours.

To make lobster broth or stock it is essentially like making any other stock from bones, with a few minor details.

Firstly, when making stock, I like to roast my bones or shells for better flavor.  Secondly, for shell stocks (shrimp, crab, lobster….) it helps to crush the shells or at least break them into smaller pieces.  I even have seen recipes for lobster stock that want you to process the shells in the food processor until tiny, or until it ruins your blade. Well, they don’t say that last bit, but I am sure it can’t be good for the food processor. Your choice.

Since I roast my shells in the oven, I also make the stock in the oven, all in one large roasting pan.

Turn oven to 400 degrees.  When oven is hot, pour a small amount of oil into the roaster and place the shell bits (of 4-6 lobsters) into the pan, tossing a bit to coat.  Place pan in oven and allow to roast until the shells start to turn dark and black.  Stir occasionally, not often. When the shells are dark and there is some crust building on the bottom of the pan add:

  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • s/p

Continue to roast until the shells are definitely dark, the veggies are soft, and there are lots of pan drippings.  Stir in,

  • 2Tb tomato paste
  • 2t cayenne
  • 2Tb tarragon, dried

 

Pour 1 cup cognac over the pan goodness and stir to scrape up all of the yummy bits.

Add water or cooking liquid until ½” from the top of pan. 

Push pan back into the oven and allow to reduce by half or until a rich flavor and color develop.

Strain through fine mesh or cheesecloth.

The broth can be used as is or boiled and reduced further to make a richer, more velvety stock or sauce.

I have in my fridge about 4qts of lobster stock. 2 Quarts were made in the oven and the other, on the stove top. The one from the oven is superb as a rich broth and I use as is. The one from the stove top is about to be reduced to achieve further yumminess.

Lobster Ravioli in Lobster Cream Sauce.

For me, these were easy.  The filling required the most work and that took minutes. This is definitely a 20 minute meal if you have two main components as ‘leftovers’, the Lobster Broth and the Tomato Tarragon Bisque.*

First make the filling for the ravioli. Mix together in a bowl or food processor:

  • 1c ricotta
  • 1 egg yolk (reserve white for egg wash)
  • 1/4c diced lobster meat
  • 2Tb parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • salt
  • pinch white pepper

This will yield enough filling to make other things like fried versions of the same thing or other filled pastas or egg dishes.

Next, bring 1 cup of lobster broth to a slow boil in a large sauté pan. This can be made in a pot but I prefer the pan.

While the broth is heating make the Lobster Ravioli. Add 1Tb filling to the center of round wonton wrappers and seal with egg wash. The sauce proportions are good for 18 ravioli to serve 3.

Once the broth is simmering and the ravioli are made, place the ravioli into the broth while swirling the pan.  The swirling will keep the wrappers from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Use this motion to bring the sauce together instead of stirring, which could break the ravioli. Swirl often. Simmer the ravioli for 1 minute. Add in 1cup of leftover Tomato Tarragon Bisque* Swirl in a handful of parmesan cheese. Let sauce bubble together. Finish by melting in 2Tb of leftover clarified lobster dipping butter (or regular butter). Sauce should be uniform and thickly coat ravioli.

*Don’t have tomato bisque? Substitute with 1Tb tomato paste, 1c cream, 1-2Tb fresh or dried tarragon. Whisk together the tomato paste and cream before adding to pan.

The leftover lobster broth in my fridge will also be used to make the green curry sauce for the soft shell crabs that happened my way, as well as the base for a seafood stew.