Rich, creamy seafood bisque made with blue crabs, vegetables, white wine then spiced up with cayenne.
12 live or frozen uncooked blue crabs, CLEANED WELL
2 Tablespoons UNsalted butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, sweet onion preferred, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 bay leaf
4 lg thyme sprigs
1 whole clove
1/4 teaspoon black pepercorns, crushed
1/2 cup Cognac or other brandy
1 cup dry white wine
1 3/4 cups reduced sodium chicken STOCK
6 cups water
1/3 cup long-grain white rice (or short grain)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (half a lemon)
Large pinch of cayenne
1/2 pound lump crabmeat, at room temperature, picked over
- If using live crabs, add to pot of boiling water using tongs. Cover pot and cook over high heat until crab shells are red, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain crabs in a colander.
- Put crabs (cooked or frozen uncooked) into a large metal roasting pan. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and pound shells with meat pounder to crush (including claws).
- Heat butter and oil in same pot over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then cook onion, carrot, celery, and garlic with bay leaf, thyme, clove, peppercorns, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add Cognac, wine, and crushed crabs and bring to a boil. Add broth and water and return to a boil. Skim foam, then simmer, covered, stirring and skimming occasionally, 1 hour.
- Put colander in a large bowl, then drain crab broth, reserving solids for crab butter (if making). Transfer broth to a medium saucepan.
- Ladle out 2 cups broth and transfer to a 1-quart saucepan. Add rice and simmer, covered, until very tender, 15 to 20 minutes (not all of liquid will be absorbed).
- Blend together rice with cooking liquid and 1 cup more crab broth in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), then add to remaining broth in medium saucepan.
- Just before serving, reheat bisque over medium heat until hot, then stir in tarragon, lemon juice, cayenne, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
- Ladle bisque into bowls and spoon a little crabmeat into center.