the appetizer:

Restauranteur Ralph Brennan demystifies fish and shellfish in his New Orleans Seafood Cookbook, with recipes like Barbecue Shrimp; Seafood and Okra Gumbo with Alligator Sausage; Creole Seasoning; and Crab Stock; plus a short excerpt on Alligator, Frog Legs and Turtle.



Crab Stock

for 3 to 4 quarts


A mild seafood stock with just a touch of tomato paste, this crab stock can be used in a range of recipes.


Roasting the crab shells and crushing or breaking them up adds richness to the stock.

Special Equipment

One of the following:

  • A metal meat tenderizer
  • A kitchen mallet
  • A large sturdy mixing spoon
  • A heavy, nonreactive* 8-quart stockpot or Dutch oven
  • A large strainer (the finer the mesh the better)

*See Using Nonreactive Cookware (page 419 of the book).

  • 3 pounds gumbo crabs*
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, cut into half-inch rounds
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups good-quality dry white wine
  • 4 quarts cool water
  • 5 small whole bay leaves

*Hard-shell crabs that are too scrawny to yield good lump crabmeat and are used to provide crab flavor to gumbos and other preparations.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the crab shells in a single layer in a roasting pan, and roast them just until the shells turn bright red, about 30 minutes.

After the shells have been allowed to cool slightly, leave them in the pan and, with a meat tenderizer, kitchen mallet or edge of a large sturdy mixing spoon, crush the shells or break them into pieces as much as possible. Set the pan aside with the shell pieces and any pan juices.

Melt the butter in a heavy, nonreactive 8-quart stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery and carrots and cook until the vegetables turn golden, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Reduce the heat to medium and stir the tomato paste. Cook the mixture about three minutes, stirring almost constantly. Stir in the wirie. Add the crab shells, any pan juices, the cool water and the bay leaves.

Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. During this time, skim any foam or coagulants from the surface as they develop, and replenish the water as the liquid evaporates.

When the simmer is complete, strain the stock through a fine-mesh strainer.

Serving Suggestion: Use the stock immediately or allow it to cool down and store it in the refrigerator overnight or in the freezer for up to one month.

  • from:
  • Ralph Brennan's New Orleans Seafood Cookbook
  • by Ralph Brennan with Gene Bourg
  • Photography by Kerri McCaffety
  • Vissi d'Arte Books, 2008
  • $45.00/hardcover; Full color photographs
  • ISBN-10: 0970933681
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-9709336-8-3
  • Recipe reprinted by permission.

New Orleans Seafood Cookbook


This page created April 2008

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