On a budget? Eat bugs!

A lobster dinner seems like an extravagantly sumptuous
way to wrap up a year. Yet it can be a frugal way to
prepare the larder for a delicious year to come. A
2.5-pound hen and a couple pounds of steamer clams
came to about $30 from the Two Cousins fish market.
Barbara and I were stuffed on clams, the claws and
legs. Yes a 2.5-pounder has meat to eat in the legs. So
that's two meals, counting one apiece per diner. Next
day, the carapace meat became sushi rolls for a
Japanese dinner, bringing servings to four, while the
shells boiled to make seafood stock. There still is a
4-ounce tail for another meal for two, maybe a salad or
omelet? That brings servings to six. The stock boiled
down to two very concentrated pints that each will
expand to a four servings of chowder with veggie
additions. Those eight servings bring the total to 14
servings off one $30 investment, for a cost of about 50
cents a serving. Granted rice was added to make the
sushi and veggies to make the chowder, but they're
much lower bottom feeders on the grocery shelf than
lobsters. So maybe the sushi and chowders round up
more to 75 cents a serving. Still. Cheap eats and mighty
tasty. A quarter or more of a lobster's meat is in the
carapace and they're lots easier to clean than blue-claw
crab body meat. The bigger the bug the more meat in
legs and other areas. Dump all shells into a stock pot,
cover with water and the pot liquor from steaming the
shellfish. Boil for an hour and then strain the stock
through cheesecloth, especially if surf clams are
involved, to remove sand. Freeze as is or boil it down. I
like to reduce it to two dense pints before freezing. Each
pint of concentrate can be reconstituted with up to three
pints of water. Add carrots, taters, celery, onions, corn
or other veggies. For a thicker chowder mince one
potato and coarse cut a couple others. Add tomatoes
early for a Manhattan version or cream at the end for a
New England style. Seasoning? Salt, pepper, garlic,
parsley to taste. A tablespoon of bacon grease is the
secret ingredient at Sterner's Bar & Grill. Adding a can
of clams or a fillet of big-flaked fish can provide a
meaty mouth feel to the chowder, which would add a
dime or so to soup servings, bringing them to 85-90
cents apiece. Some assembly required. Enjoy!
Click To

Mouse over
for captions

Bob Sterner
photos © 2013
Barbara Krooss Photo
2.5-pound hen
Making stock
Broth concentrate