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Getting By With A Little Help From My Friends - Crab And Fennel Broth With Lobster Claws

These are trying times for sure. I’m not sure if it’s fortunate or unfortunate that I spent most of my spare time cooking (I don’t actually have spare time, but I do this anyway).

My friend Melissa from Sonora’s at the David Finney Inn

knows this about me - we have this in common - and came to my house one day with a bunch of leftover crabs from her crab feast. If you haven’t gone to one of her crab feasts, you should.

I decided to make a nice crab stock, and since hers were not completely encrusted with Old Bay like they often are, I had a lot of room to play with the flavors.


12-14 steamed crabs, broken in pieces, “mustard” and lungs removed

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 large onions, chopped

8 garlic cloves, chopped

2 large fennel bulbs with tops, roughly chopped

1 small can tomato paste

1 bottle white wine

8 bay leaves

2 tablespoons black peppercorns

Salt to taste

1 pound lobster claws, or your seafood of choice


Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot and saute the vegetables over high heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are translucent. Add the tomato paste, stir well and cook over medium heat for another 2 or 3 minutes, until it darkens.

Add the shells and bodies and smash them all with a potato masher.

Mix well to coat with the tomato paste and to disperse the veggies. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring a couple times.

Add the white wine, bay leaves, and peppercorns and bring to a boil. Let this cook for a minute or two, then pour in enough cold water to cover everything by about two inches.

Let this simmer very gently for between 2 - 3 hours. If it is cooking at too hot a heat, you’ll get a foam on the top.

Add salt to taste.

Turn off the heat. Set up another large pot or bowls and put a fine-meshed strainer over it. Line the strainer with a plain paper towel or cheesecloth and ladle the stock through this set-up into the large pot or bowls. Do not try to get the last dregs of stock, as this will be full of debris. Discard the shells, etc.

Most recipes for seafood stock say to cook it no longer than an hour and a half because the stock gets cloudy and takes on too much color. Pheh. I like the flavor that cooking this long brings out of the stock.

I sauteed my lobster claws in a small amount of butter for just a few minutes on each side, and served them simply in a bowl of this rich broth. To preserve, Let the stock cool for 15 to 30 minutes, then use or pour into quart jars. The stock will keep for a week in the fridge. It will freeze well for 2 months, but after that it deteriorates rapidly.

You could add veggies to it if you want, but try it this way first. Sometimes, the simplest things really are the best. Like friendships.

And speaking of friends, Jamie Stewart, a friend to many in New Castle, Delaware, and a Sonora regular, lost her battle with cancer on Sunday. She’s pictured here (top left) at Sonora with Melissa (bottom center) and Kate Tigani (top right).

Enjoy the simple things while you can, and be grateful for the friendships. I certainly am.

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