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~ Provencal Seafood (Lobster*) Stew w/Lemon Rice~

PICT0984 This sumptuous seafood stew, which from start to finish takes 45-60 minutes to prepare, has been served in my kitchen as a starter-course at sit-down luncheons and dinner parties, as well as Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It's also been served as an entree on days when I want to serve up something really special just for my family.  Sometimes I make it using vegetable stock when I have vegetarian friends dining at my table as well.  It is as enjoyable in the warmth of the Spring/Summer as it is in the chill of Fall/Winter.  It might be April Fools Day today, but all fooling aside, my stew recipe is truly a five-star start to any meal or a five-star meal itself!

A bit about Provencal:  "Provencal" is a term referring to dishes prepared in the style of Provence, a region in southeastern France that borders on the Mediterranean Sea.  Provencal cuisine is full of fresh, bold flavors, with garlic, tomatoes and olive oil being the major trademark. Anchovies/anchovy paste, olives, bell peppers, eggplant (aubergine), fennel, onions, mushrooms, squash and zucchini play prominent rolls as well.  Fruits are usually eaten as a dessert, but lemons are used as a flavoring in many of their dishes.  All sorts of fresh and dried herbs are used in Provencal cooking, with the most famous blend being Herbes de Provence, and I'll be giving you a recipe for how to make it for yourself at some point soon.  The fresh vegetables are often used in stews, like ratatouille, or salads like salad Nicoise.  And, who doesn't just love tapenade (?), a Provencal paste/spread made with olives, anchovies and capers.  Because provence borders on the Mediterranean, fish and shellfish are eaten in abundance.  That being said, my own very special recipe for bouillabaisse with its saffron-flavored broth and spicy rouille will be coming to you at some point too!

I could go on and on, but it's time to get back to my seafood stew story.  There came a day in Melanie's Kitchen when I found myself in a "punting" situation.  I had eight guests coming for a casual Kitchen Encounter and I was planning on serving my stew as a main course.  I had made the broth the night before and all of my seafood was prepped and ready to add to the stew just before they arrived.  About two hours before the party, one of my friends called to apologize and told me she and her husband wouldn't be coming because their son and his wife had decided to come for a visit.  Me being me, I immediately said, "bring them along too, it will be great to see them again."  When I got off the phone I assured myself I had plenty of food (I always make extra in case someone wants a second helping).  But, me being me again, I decided an "insurance policy" would erase any doubt I had on that subject, so:  I cooked some extra-long grain white rice and flavored it with fresh lemon juice, lemon zest and black pepper.  At serving time, I place a scoop of lemon rice in the center of each bowl and ladled the stew around it.  A new twist on an old favorite was born that evening and we all had a very memorable Kitchen Encounter!















2  pounds large shrimp (31-35 count), peeled and deveined, tails off

2  pounds small bay scallops

2, 12-16 ounce lobster tails, or, 1-1 1/2 pounds chopped lobster meat

1  pound jumbo lump crabmeat, the best available

6  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or olive oil

1  pound diced yellow or sweet onion

8  ounces diced celery

2  cups chicken stock, preferably homemade, or 1, 14 1/2-ounce can chicken broth

1  bottle sweet white wine

2  28-ounce cans whole, peeled tomatoes, undrained

6  medium-sized bay leaves

1  teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1  teaspoon salt

1/2  teaspoon red pepper flakes

2  tablespoons Pernod, a French Aperitif, more or less, to taste

1  recipe for Lemon Rice (ingredients and instructions posted below)

~ Step 1.  Remove the seafood from the refrigerator.  Peel and devein the shrimp as directed, removing the tails as you work.  Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut the shells from the lobster tails and chop the meat into large, bite-sized pieces.  Note:  I usually freeze my shrimp shells, to make seafood stock.  In the case of the two large lobster shells, when I am making this stew, I add them to the simmering broth for flavor.  When the broth is finished I remove and discard them before adding the seafood.  This option is yours.

PICT0888~ Step 2.  Place the tomatoes in a large bowl.  Using your hands, squish them into large, bite-sized chunks and pieces.

Note:  In this picture, I am squishing a tomato for the camera.  In the real world, I keep the tomatoes submerged in the liquid while squishing them, which keeps their juices from squirting all over the place!

PICT0900 ~ Step 3.  Place the EVOO in an 8-quart, stockpot.  If you are making your broth a day in advance be sure to use a non-aluminum stockpot.

Prep the onion, celery and garlic as directed, placing them in the stockpot as you work.  Adjust the heat to saute, stirring constantly, until the onion softens, about 6 minutes.

Note:  Aluminum pots and pans are great conductors of heat, however, it is not recommended that food be stored in them for long periods of time.  Aluminum will react with and discolor some foods containing eggs, wine or other acidic ingredients, like tomatoes.  While this discoloration is not harmful, it is unattractive.

PICT0905 ~ Step 4.  Add the wine and chicken stock.  Adjust the heat to a gentle, steady simmer.

Note:  As I mentioned above, when I am making this soup for vegetarian guests, I substitute my homemade vegetable stock for my homemade chicken stock.  You can find my recipe for ~ How To:  Make A Basic Vegetable Stock a la Lidia ~ in Categories 14, 15 & 22.



~ Step 5.  Add and stir in the tomatoes, bay leaves, dried thyme leaves, salt and red pepper flakes.

Adjust heat to a gentle, steady simmer, partially cover the pot and continue to simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Check in on it and give it a stir occasionally.

While the broth is simmering, we're going to prepare the lemon rice:

PICT09193  cups extra long-grain white rice

6  cups water, minus 6 tablespoons water

4  ounces (1 stick) salted butter, total butter throughout recipe

1  lemon, juice and zest

1  teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/2  teaspoon sea salt



~ Step 6.  In a 4-quart stockpot, bring the water and 6 tablespoons of the butter to a boil over high heat.

Gradually, but in a constant stream, add the rice to the boiling water. Adjust heat to a gentle, steady simmer, stirring constantly.  Cover the pot and continue to cook, until the rice is fully-cooked and has absorbed all of the liquid, about 12-16 minutes.  Do not uncover or stir.

PICT0937 ~ Step 7.  While the rice is simmering, using a microplane grater, zest the lemon.  Cut the lemon in half and strain the juice through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl.







~ Step 8.  When the rice is cooked, add and thoroughly stir all of the lemon juice, zest, the black pepper, sea salt and the 2 remaining tablespoons of butter into the rice.  Cover and set aside.






It's time to finish the soup:

PICT0959 ~ Step 9.  Add and stir the shrimp and the scallops into the gently simmering broth.   When the soup returns to a simmer:






~ Step 10.  Add and stir in the pieces of lobster.  When the soup returns to a simmer:








~ Step 11.  Add and stir in the lumps of crabmeat.  When the soup returns to a simmer:







~ Step 12.  Continue to simmer until shrimp are perfectly cooked, about 2-3 additional minutes.  Cooking all of the seafood in the stew will take about 12-15 total minutes.  Stir 2 tablespoons of Pernod into the broth.  To serve, place a scoop of lemon rice ( 1/2 cup) in the center of each warmed soup bowl.  Ladle hot stew, around the rice, into each portion.  If desired, garnish each with some additional lemon zest and chopped chives.  Serve immediately:



Provencal Seafood (Lobster) Stew w/Lemon Rice:  Recipe yields 8-10 entree servings or 12-16 starter servings and 6 cups of rice.

Special Equipment List:  kitchen shears; cutting board; chef's knife; 8-quart stockpot w/ lid, preferably non-aluminum; large spoon; 4-quart stockpot w/lid; microplane grater; fine mesh strainer; soup ladle

PICT0953 Cook's Note:  Pernod is a yellowish, licorice-flavored liqueur similar to absinthe.  Pernod is very popular in France and is usually mixed with water, which turns it whitish and cloudy.

Extra Cook's Note:  Leftover stew reheats nicely in the microwave.  The seafood tends to get tough if reheated on the stovetop.

*To take this dish over the top: On certain occasions, I prepare it using all lobster (no other seafood):  6-8, 12-16-ounce lobster tails.  I of course, refer to this decadent meal as Provencal Lobster Stew!!!  

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2011)


Really good recipe thanks for sharing will soon going to try.

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