After making the Becker Lane Organic pork shoulder roast, I was amazed by the cooking liquid that was left behind in the crock pot. It had a wonderful thickness, color, and aroma. It actually reminded me a lot of the soup for bouillabaisse. And so, I figured I would try using that same liquid to make my own seafood stew. And it was good. Real good. (By the way, it didn’t taste like pork at all. Trust me on this one.)
1. skim it: I started out with all of the broth that I had saved from when I had made that Becker Lane Organic pork shoulder roast in the crock pot. But the broth was a little too fatty to eat straight up. So I skimmed as much fat as possible. There was quite a bit. My dog was rather upset with me for throwing away this seasoned pork fat into the garbage.
2. boil it: the broth had picked up a wonderful thickness to it during the cooking process. Storing it in the fridge turned it into almost a jelly. Reheating it loosened up the broth back into it’s previous soupy, stewy condition. Also, I threw in the rest of the leftover carrots from the night before.
3. bake it: to go with the seafood stew, I knew I wanted two things: french fries and garlic toasts. The fries needed to be cooked at 450 for 25 minutes.
4. boil it: At Whole Foods, along with the fries, we picked up 6 little neck clams and 3/4 of a pound of mussels. With about 15 minutes left to go for the fries, I added the clams. At about 10 minutes left, I added the mussels.
Working with clams and mussels always freaks me out. You know, because they’re still alive. If they open up slightly, you’re supposed to give them a little tap to see if they’ll close up on their own. When you do, the clams or mussels will slowly and silently close, like an old screen door in the middle of a summer night.
But for some reason, I am afraid that, at any point, a mussel might not take too kindly to being knocked on and take a snap at me as if it were a mousetrap. I know this is impossible. But I’m always on edge when working with mollusks.
5. bake it: with about ten minutes left for the fries, I sliced up some ciabatta and sprinkled with olive oil, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese. Lately, I have been loving ciabatta bread. It is good for everything.
6. boil it: with five minutes left on the fries, add the bay scallops. I had half a pound of these little gems.
7. eat it: once the fries were done, I pulled everything from the heat. I dished out the soup and was presently surprised that only 1 of my clams didn’t open, so it was a good ratio of good clams and mussels to bad ones. The last time I made mussels, about a quarter of them didn’t open, which was disappointing.
The clams and mussels were all cooked perfectly. And they tasted marvelous. Every time I make clams or mussels at home, I am astonished by how easy they are to make and how delicious they are. I mean, the deliciousness-to-effort ratio is so good that I don’t know why everyone doesn’t make these at home all the time.
The garlic toasts were fantastic. They were extra crispy and would hurt your mouth if you ate them by themselves. But, once dunked into the broth of the seafood stew, they were perfect. The fries, too, were quite delicious. Whenever I think of mussels, I think of fries. The two are a good friends.
But the real star of the evening was the broth. It didn’t taste like bouillabaisse, but it reminded me of bouillabaisse. And by that, I mean that it had the same feel. It had the same mouth feel. It had the same body. It had that same boldness, savoriness, and unctuousness. To me, this was hard core comfort food.
And the thing is, this was s a by-product of a pork roast – a crock pot roast, no less. The fact that it could become the foundation of such a wonderful seafood stew defied logic. It was like making bouillabaisse without saffron or cioppino while you were sleeping and completely unaware. Somehow, using that pork cooking liquid to make a seafood stew was manifest destiny. I was so impressed with this discovery that I have decreed that all crock pot roasts in my home shall heretofore be followed the next day with a seafood stew. After all, it was only mildly more difficult than making ramen noodles.
The only sad part was when the empty shells bowl started getting more full than my soup bowl. It’s like when you start to reach the bottom of a pudding cup. You’re still happy because there’s still a lot of goodness left to go, but you are staring to become aware that this meal will soon have to come to an end. It’s like a little euphemism for a midlife crisis.