Maine chefs and home cooks with a “waste nothing” approach understand that the perk of a boiled lobster dinner for visiting summer guests on Saturday is the prospect of lobster stock on Monday. Especially enterprising cooks make corn stock, too. These flavorful stocks, generated from ingredients otherwise destined for the compost pile, infuse sweet undertones into future soups, sauces, risottos and poaching liquids.
Chef Shannon Bard of Zapoteca Restaurante y Tequileria in Portland and Mixteca Taqueria y Cantina in Durham, New Hampshire, uses both the cobs and the spent lobster bodies to make one of her signature Mexican-food-meets-the-Maine-coast dishes: Lobster, Corn and Poblano Bisque.
“In Mexican cuisine, corn is revered,” she said. “You don’t dare waste any of it.”
At her restaurants, she uses corn husks to make tamales and in her Corn Cob-Lobster Stock. The cobs go in the stockpot, too, the silk – deep fried – is used as garnish for soup, and the kernels appear in all sorts of dishes.
Bard, a chef, mother of four and soon-to-be cookbook author, says busy summer schedules are no excuse for throwing out the shells. Freeze them and make stock later.
“Just take a minute to prep them,” she said. “Put them in a plastic bag and throw them in the freezer until you’ve got the time to make stock on a rainy day.”
Bard developed her Lobster, Corn and Poblano Bisque last summer for a dinner she catered in honor of visiting Mexican dignitaries. The poblanos, garlic and cilantro are not something thrifty Yankee forebears would recognize, but the waste-not-want-not attitude definitely is.
LOBSTER, CORN AND POBLANO BISQUE
Chef Shannon Bard uses Corn Cob-Lobster Stock as the base for her rich and silky bisque.
She uses grilled corn in the soup for a nice smoky flavor, but boiled corn will also work. At Zapoteca, Bard garnishes the soup with lobster meat poached in chipotle-lime butter; at home, a few tablespoons of cooked lobster meat is simpler.
Serves 4 to 6
4 unpeeled cloves garlic
2- 3 poblano chile peppers
4 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small white onion, diced
1 cup dry white wine
Kernels from 4-5 ears corn (about 2 1/2 cups), divided
5 cups Corn Cob–Lobster Stock (recipe online)
Chopped cooked, lobster meat
To roast the garlic, place the cloves in a dry skillet over medium-high heat. Dry roast, shaking the pan regularly until the cloves are golden brown with a few dark brown spots, 5 to 8 minutes. Set on a plate to cool, then slip the skins slip off the cloves. Set aside.
To roast the poblanos, place the whole peppers on a hot grill (or roast in a 425 F degree oven). Turn them with tongs, until skins are blackened on all sides, 5 to 8 minutes. Cool them in a covered bowl, then peel off the charred skin (gloves are a good idea). Cut off tops, trim, scrap and discard the seeds and ribs. Set the prepared poblanos aside.
Meanwhile, pour the cream into a saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a simmer and reduce it to 2 cups; this will take about 15 minutes. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a large stockpot. Add the onion and sauté until translucent but not browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the roasted garlic. Add the wine, 2 cups corn kernels, and the stock. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the roasted poblanos.
Puree the mixture in a blender or with an immersion blender. Strain it through a fine-mesh sieve and return to the stockpot. Stir in the reduced heavy cream. Warm gently. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Garnish with the remaining corn kernels, the chopped cilantro and the lobster meat.
You can use this stock as the base for soups, sauces, risottos and for poaching fish. Freeze it for up to 2 months. Makes about 2 quarts
4 cloves unpeeled garlic
Bodies of 4 (1 1/2-pound) lobsters
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small white onion, diced
4 corn cobs
Handful of corn husks
1 cup dry white wine
To roast the garlic, place the cloves in a dry skillet over medium-high heat. Dry roast, shaking the pan regularly until the cloves are golden brown with a few dark brown spots, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool, then slip the skins slip off the cloves. Set aside.
To extract the most flavor from the lobster shells, break the claw and tail shells into small pieces. Pull the bodies open and remove the gray, feathery gills and the sand sac from between the eyes.
Melt the butter in a 6-quart stockpot. Sauté the onion until it is translucent but not browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the roasted garlic. Add the lobster shells, corn cobs and husks. Stir in the white wine.
Cover the solids with water, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and simmer the stock for 40 minutes. Cool and strain the stock, discarding the solids.