2 ounces dry Shiitake mushrooms*
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 pound onion, coarsely cut up
3/4 pound carrots, coarsely cut up
4 celery stalks plus any leaves from the celery head
1/2 pound fennel (tops and fronds plus enough of the bulb to equal 1/2 pound total)
4–6 lobster shells** (crushed)
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 6–ounce can tomato paste
1/2 cup sherry
1/2 up vermouth or white wine
8 whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 bay leaves
Small bunch of parsley including stems
Same amount of fresh thyme (small bunch)
2 quarts good quality vegetable stock
1 quart of water
Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour over hot water to reconstitute the mushrooms. Do not discard the liquid. Let this sit until a later step.
In a large, wide bottomed pot, add butter and oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and fennel along with the crushed lobster shells and cook and toss with a heavy wooden spoon for ten minutes, being careful not to let the mixture stick. Add more oil if needed.
Add garlic and tomato paste and cook for three minutes, again, stirring often.
Add the sherry and vermouth and stir to deglaze.
Add the remaining ingredients including the reserved mushrooms and mushroom water, bring to a boil, then lower to a fast simmer and cook for about three hours.
You want to reduce the liquid to 4 cups (one quart). Depending on how fast the liquid evaporates, the stock could be reduced to one quart in less than three hours so check at 90 minutes, then every 30 minutes to make sure too much doesn’t evaporate. (If the stock evaporates too soon, just add a little more water). Again, the end goal is four cups of liquid.
Strain and discard all solids. Use immediately or cool and freeze in quart zipper bags with all air pushed out.
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*Fresh Shiitake mushrooms may be substituted. Increase amount of fresh mushrooms to 5 ounces.
**Lobster shells should be claws, knuckles, tails, legs and outer body shells but not inner body. The inner body should be discarded. Use a mallet, potato masher or whatever means you have and crush the shells as much as possible, saving any liquid that is left after crushing.