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Food For Thought: Shell-Stocked!

Nancy Leson
The start of a beautiful crab stock

I hoard shrimp shells.  "I've got a wad of them the size of soccer ball in the freezer," I told Nancy Leson. They're a great start to a good seafood stock.

We're both savers of scraps for making stocks.  Shrimp and crab shells, vegetable trimmings, bones and carcasses all go into the pot.   It's a great way to reduce waste and to have homemade broths for soups and gravies waiting in the freezer.

Credit Nancy Leson
Is that a pig snout in your stockpot or are you just that glad to see me?

"I'm crazy for saving the carcasses of roasted chickens," Nancy says.  "I save vegetables and slow roast them until they're caramelized and then turn that into a stock."  

This year, her triumph was seafood stock made from the shells of Dungeness crab her family caught last fall.

After picking out the meat she put the shells into an unsealed (prevents bursting) Ziploc bag and pounded them into submission with a rolling pin.  "Then I slow roasted them at 300 for about an hour and a half."

While the shells roasted she pulled "umpteen different cookbooks" for seafood stock recipes.  The winner was Jacques Pepin's from his "Essential Pepin" cookbook.

Nancy being Nancy, naturally she diverged from his recipe.  Which would be fine with Pepin, who says that sometimes following a recipe too closely can lead to disaster.  Hers "made enough stock to feed 12 people gumbo.  And there was enough left over that now, in February I can pull some stock-i-fyed gumbo from the freezer and enjoy it again."

"At Thanksgiving we kill everything we can find, put it in a pot and call it  holiday gumbo." – Molly Harper"

Dick Stein joined KNKX in January 1992. He retired in 2020 after three decades on air. During his storied radio career, he hosted the morning jazz show, co-hosted and produced "Food for Thought" with Nancy Leson and wrote and directed the Jimmy Jazzoid live radio musical comedies and 100 episodes of Jazz Kitchen.