Saturday, November 17, 2007

Shrimp Stew

I had some vin blanc leftover from the sausage recipe so I thought to myself, "What else can I do with white wine?" Seafood immediately came to mind and I started combing the old cookbook collection. My obsession with shrimp is still going strong so when I discovered a recipe for Shrimp Stew in Tom Valenti's Soups, Stews, & One-Pot Meals, the search ended. I should say that the dish I ended up making is a very, very loose adaptation of what was in the cookbook. I hesitate to even call it an adaptation because I changed so many things. However, as the recipe acted as my muse, I must give credit where credit is due.

And we're off!
The usual picture of the ingredients:
Start out by dealing with the shrimp. I'm using a pound of head-on shrimp with shells. There must have been about 15-20 shrimp total. Here's a picture of the briny bastards:
The next few steps are not for the squeamish. Begin by twisting off the heads and set aside. Run a paring knife through the backs of the shrimp and pull upwards so you simultaneously butterfly the shrimp and split the shells. Remove the shells and combine with the recently severed heads. Set the shrimp meat aside.

Heat up a soup pot and add some olive oil. Toss in the shrimp shells and heads. Give it a stir and allow the shells to brown a bit.

Add two tablespoons of tomato puree or one tablespoon of tomato paste. Toss in a quarter cup of white wine and allow to reduce until it's mostly gone. Toss in 4 cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. If you want to simmer it a little longer, say an hour, feel free.
You should end up with a delicious shrimpy liquid. This is why I used the shell-on shrimp with heads. However, you can totally go with de-shelled, headless shrimp. Your soup just won't taste as good as mine. You pansy, nancy-boy you.

While the shrimp stock is simmering, prep the rest of the ingredients. Clean and cut 3 leeks into postage stamp sized pieces. Refer back to this post if you forget how to clean leeks. Mince three cloves of garlic. Cut a pound of potatoes into AA-battery sized pieces. Devein the shrimp and brine. Refer back to this post on why/how to brine. Roughly chop a handful of fresh dill. Enjoy a glass of wine while you're working. You deserve it.

When the shrimp stock is done, strain and press the shells to extract as much flavor/liquid as possible. Set the liquid aside and throw out the shells.

Clean out the soup pot and toss in half of a stick of unsalted butter. Allow to melt and then toss in the minced garlic. Saute for a minute but don't let the garlic or the butter burn. Toss in the leeks and saute for 3 minutes. Toss in the potatoes and saute for 2 minutes. With the addition of each vegetable, add a pinch of salt.
Pour in a cup of white wine, bring to a boil and reduce until most of the wine has evaporated. Here's a picture of the whole mess:
Pour in the shrimp stock and, if necessary, water to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil and simmer for approximately ten minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through. Taste for seasoning.

Time to add the shrimp. Drain the shrimp and add them to the soup. They will cook very, very quickly, say a minute of two. Toss in the handful of chopped dill, a squeeze or two of lemon juice and you're all set. Done!

Time- About an hour. Maybe a bit more.
Food Cost-
Shrimp- $6.00
White Wine-$4.50
Leeks- $2.50
Incidentals- $1.25
Servings- 6 good sized bowls. $2.37 per bowl.

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