As the BP oil spill stretches into yet another month, many people I know are buying shrimp to peel and freeze, trying to ensure that their favorite seafood is available through the winter and into next spring. No one seems to know how the long-running spill will impact future shrimp harvests, and none of us can imagine being without local shrimp for the foreseeable future.
So if you’re one of those planning-ahead types who’s peeling ice chests of shrimp, stop for a minute and save the heads and shells. Get more bang for your buck and make a big pot of shrimp stock….it freezes nicely, will keep for months, and will add a nice shrimpy zing to fall’s gumbos, soups, and stews. If you feel the need to ration out your precious shrimp and begin to cut back on the ordinarily profligate amounts you toss into your dishes, the frozen shrimp stock will help to camouflage your shortage.
- Heads and peelings from 3-6 pounds of shrimp
- 1-3 T olive oil
- 1 small onion, cut into chunks
- 3 stalks celery, cut into chunks
- 1 carrot, cut into chunks
- 10-15 black peppercorns, smashed with something heavy
- a generous handful of bay leaves (7-10)
- 4-6 branches of fresh thyme
- small sprig of rosemary
- 5-7 quarts of water, depending on the size of the stockpot
In a large stockpot, heat oil until it sizzles when a droplet of water is flicked into the pot. Add shrimp heads & peels, stirring to coat with the hot oil. Cook until shells are bright pink, about 5 minutes. Add onion, celery, carrot, peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary; cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring often. Next, pour in the water. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat, then reduce heat so that the pot gently simmers. Cook at a simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat; allow to cool slightly, then strain out solids. Use within two days, or freeze in 2-cup containers. Will keep for at least 3 months, frozen.