How to Make Shrimp Stock, Stock from Shells

 If you are lucky enough to get your hands on fresh shrimp then you are lucky indeed. Check out How to Clean and Prep Fresh Shrimp, if you aren't sure how to deal with it when it's fresh. But make sure you hang on to the shells. Those shells are going to give you one of the best secrets in the culinary world - a great stock.

Shrimp stock can be used in just about any seafood preparation, although I have to say my favorite is in dishes that also contain shrimp. Use it for chowder, or stew, or a shrimp pot pie - any of these go from delicious to stellar when paired with a stock made of the same flavors as the main ingredient.

The best part of it all is that it is amazingly easy. Throw everything in a pot, and simmer. Not much more to it than that - and the reward is fabulous flavor!

 You'll need:

  • The shells (and tails if you have them) from about four pounds of shrimp. A note here - every time you work with shrimp, just toss the shells in a baggie and stash them in the freezer. You can add to it as you get more. Just use them within a couple months.
  • 1 1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, including leaves roughly chopped. If you have the leafy heart, use that - those leaves have beautifully delicate flavor. Just use a few more since they're smaller.
  • 2 Tbl butter
  • 1 large sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 Tbl olive oil
  • 2 quarts of water
  • 1 Tbl kosher salt
  1. In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, melt butter and add olive oil. Add the shrimp shells, carrot, onion, thyme and celery. Sprinkle with salt.
  2. Saute for about five minutes, or until the shrimp shells are pink and the onions begin to show translucency.
  3. Add water. There should be just enough to cover the shells and vegetables. Add a touch more if necesary. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat until the pot is at a bare simmer. Simmer the shrimp stock for about 45 minutes to an hour, keeping the heat low, so the surface of the stock is barely moving.
  5. Remove from heat and strain. Press the solids to get every drop of juice. If you want the stock absolutely clear, you can strain it through a couple of layers of cheesecloth. I normally simply use a fine wire mesh strainer.

That's all there is to it - you're ready to go. This is an amazing little process - you'll be stunned at the intensity of the flavor. Now - go find some shrimp!

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