In Emeril Lagasse's Lobster Cream Sauce, The Shells Don't Go To Waste

When it comes to lobster sauce, Chef Emeril Lagasse uses a secret ingredient, a flavorful homemade version of a staple you most likely have in your pantry. To start his lobster sauce, Lagasse uses shellfish stock, but rather than just pull it from his kitchen cabinets, he slowly infuses shellfish stock with leftover cooked lobster shells. This trick, is resourceful, making sure none of that delicious (and expensive) lobster from previous meals goes to waste, but it also imparts beautiful flavor into Lagasse's shellfish stock and ultimately his lobster sauce. As the liquid simmers, the shellfish infuses a beautiful depth of flavor into the stock, and the longer the lobster shells are allowed to steep in the liquid, the more they can release their natural sweetness and distinct lobster aroma.

In using lobster shells to form a key, foundational component of lobster sauce, Lagasse can infuse even more briney shellfish flavor to give the illusion of a more luxurious sauce. This ingenious technique of transforming what would be discarded shells into another ingredient that can then be used to make an even better, richer lobster sauce is truly a pro tip every home cook should keep in mind.

Make your own at home

To put this tip to work at home, be sure to save the lobster shells from your cooked lobster tails, and keep them refrigerated until you are ready to use them in homemade stock. Follow Lagasse's lead and simply simmer the shells with core aromatic stock vegetables such as onions, carrots, and celery. Next, add additional aromatics that require a shorter cook time such as herbs. From here, let the stock simmer for at least an hour. Once the stock is ready, strain it. Finally, to bring the lobster sauce together, stir in heavy cream and reduce until the sauce thickens.

Once you have a luscious lobster sauce to enjoy with all kinds of dishes at home, be ready to enjoy it while it's fresh for the best flavor. The lobster sauce will only keep for up to two days in the fridge. Additionally, the sauce should not be frozen — though the shellfish stock can be. So be ready to enjoy your lobster sauce with lots of shrimp, pasta, and even vegetables like kale to avoid food waste. Alternatively, only add cream to the shellfish stock you plan to eat and hold back the remaining stock for the freezer.

Regardless of how you plan to use it, with a few simple steps and a bit of time, you too can master the technique of incorporating lobster shells into homemade lobster sauce.