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Lobster Bisque

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Recipe by: Chef John V.
Serving size: 4
Preparation time: about 2 hours


1 1 1/2 pound lobster, split live - tail and claws removed and cooked in lightly salted water
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup onions, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. black peppercorns
1 tsp. fresh thyme
2 tsp. tarragon leaves, if fresh use 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 cup flour
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons brandy
1 quart fish stock or bottled clam juice
1 quart light cream
8 ounces heavy cream
2 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons cold water
salt and ground white pepper to your taste, about 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon white pepper for this recipe


Fresh lobster is essential for a great lobster bisque, so the recipe calls for a lobster split while still alive, then cut up and added directly to the pot. Although this may seem like an intimidating prospect, a simple procedure kills the lobster instantly - the spinal cord is severed with your first incision.

On a cutting board directly in front of you, place the lobster with it's head to the right and tail to the left (reverse if you are left-handed). Hold the tail with a towel so you don't scratch yourself on any spines. Hold a large knife above the lobster as though to split it lengthwise. Insert the tip of the knife into the joint between the head and tail.

Lower the knife firmly to split the lobster's head lengthwise. Now rotate the lobster so the tail is to your right. Continue holding the lobster with the towel. Although the lobster is now dead, the muscles may contract sharply, so there's still danger of scratching yourself.

Clean the lobster by removing the sand sack (the organ located behind the eyes) and the intestine.

With a large knife, chop the lobster - head tail and claws - crosswise into pieces 1" thick.

In a heavy stock pot or Dutch oven, heat the butter until it starts to brown lightly (use high heat). Add the lobster and small shell pieces ( cook the tail and claws separately, cool, remove the meat, then add the shells to the pot). Cook until the pieces turn bright red. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, celery, carrot, garlic, tomato, bay leaf, black pepper, thyme, tarragon, paprika and flour. Continue sauteing for ten minutes.

Take the pot off the burner to add the white wine and brandy. (You don't want to ignite yourself.) Return the pot to the burner, and cook for 5 minutes more stirring well to incorporate the flour. Add the fish stock, both kinds of cream and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and let the bisque simmer for 30 minutes. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and add to the bisque, cook 3 minutes longer stirring well to thicken.

Take the bisque off the heat and strain the bisque, a cup at a time, through a fine sieve. Press down on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Return the bisque to the heat and add the cooked lobster pieces from the tails and claws 2 minutes before serving. Enjoy!