Basic Shellfish Stock

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Makes12 cups


Total Timeunder 4 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Equipmentblender, food processor

Taste and Texturesavory

Type of Dishstock


  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 pounds crustacean shells (shrimp, crab, lobster, crawfish), preferably with heads on
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk with leaves, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • ½ head garlic
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, halved
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 4 sprigs fresh Italian parsley
  • 4 sprigs fresh tarragon
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 12 cups mineral or filtered water


  1. To make a shellfish butter, divide the butter and crustacean shells into 4 equal parts. Process one part of each (butter and shells) in a blender or food processor until the shells are finely crushed and the butter is incorporated. Repeat with the remaining 3 batches.

  2. Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.

  3. Add the shellfish butter and sauté for 4 minutes, until the mixture appears dry.

  4. Add the onion, carrot, celery, leek, garlic, tomatoes, peppercorns, and fresh herbs. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed.

  5. Add the white wine and simmer until the liquid is absorbed.

  6. Add the brandy and simmer until the liquid is absorbed.

  7. Add the water, bring to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer for 1 hour.

  8. Strain the stock through a fine sieve, pressing the shells and vegetables with the back of a spoon to extract all the juice.

  9. Chill.

  10. . Remove the butter layer from the surface and reserve for another use, such as using in place of butter or oil in sautéing.


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