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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Oooooooooh, I Love Lobster!

From the far reaches of my childhood, your long red whiskers and fat red body call to me. Ahhhhh………….lobster. (Bet you were thinking Santa, weren’t you?) When I was a little girl in Newfoundland, we ate lobsters in season till we could stomach no more. I know people who ate so much, they’d completely turn against them………..until the next lobster season!

Strangely, when my mother was young, Newfoundlanders wouldn’t eat lobster. Lobsters are scavengers and in the eyes of the populace, hence dirty. My grandfather canned lobsters for the American market; during the Depression, his business collapsed. Like everywhere else, Newfoundland was hard hit as their traditional markets disappeared. My grandfather had all this lobster and no customers. His family ate them—but under cover of darkness because other villagers would have been scandalized by some of their number eating such filthy creatures. Luckily, the tide had turned on that opinion by the time I had a full set of teeth! I scarfed lobster then—and I scarf lobster now. Just let me at it!

 Lobster Linguine
Serve 2

This is a delicious and decadent way to use leftover lobster (as if THAT ever happens in our house!) but for the freshest results, steam a live lobster, cool slightly and remove all edible parts just before making the dish. Or, have the local fishmonger do it for you. Don’t use more linguine than called for unless you also make more sauce. The pasta should be bathed in the sauce, not just lightly moistened. This definitely is another version of heart attack on a plate, but holy mother, it’s so good, if it hastens your meeting your maker, you’ll go happy.

Butter or ghee (clarified butter)
2 small shallots, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/8 cup fresh tarragon, minced
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup chicken or seafood stock or broth
2 cups 35% cream
Salt to taste
1/8 tsp white pepper (black pepper will ruin the look of the dish)
1 tsp. (or more) pink peppercorns, crushed
One 1 ½ lb. lobster, claw and tail meat, shells removed

2 portions linguine (however much YOU like but not more than ½ pound), cooked as per package instructions

Garnish: finely chopped flat leaf parsley, whole 3 ½” chive leaves, pulverized cooked lobster roe (the red eggy-looking part of a female lobster)

Cut lobster tail and knuckle meat into bite-sized pieces. Leave the claw pieces whole. Chop flat leaf parsley if using for garnish. If your lobster was female and you cooked it yourself, you will probably have a roe sac that cooked right along with the lobster meat. Not everyone favours it, but I personally love it and usually eat everyone else’s—whole. If you wish to use it as garnish, let it dry out in a slow (200F) oven for an hour, then pulverize it in a small food processor or chop it really finely, so it’s almost powder.

Melt the butter or ghee in a small saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the minced shallots for 3-4 minutes, stirring, until softened slightly. Add garlic and tarragon, and sauté a further couple of minutes. Do not brown. Add the wine and broth, raise the temperature to high, bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, and cook until liquid is severely reduced. Liquid should measure a few tablespoons only. Add the cream, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. If you prefer the sauce with less texture, pass the cream mixture through a fine sieve, pressing with the back of a spoon to extract all the flavour from the shallots, garlic and tarragon. Taste. The flavour should be rather intense. Unless the mixture is salty enough from the broth, add extra salt or even some powdered bouillon, dare I say it? Remember that the addition of the linguine (even though it was cooked in salted water) will dilute the salt content of the sauce, so don’t undersalt. Generally speaking, restaurants oversalt and home cooks undersalt.

Using a mortar and pestle, coarsely grind the pink peppercorns. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, place the peppercorns between two pieces of waxed paper and bang sharply with a rolling pin. Add the cracked peppercorns and white pepper to the cream. Set aside until ready to use.

Meanwhile, cook the linguine in a large pot of boiling salted water as directed by the product. Drain well. Shake and drain some more.

While linguine is draining, bring the cream mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and boil until the mixture is thickened enough to coat a metal spoon. Remember the linguine will soak up some of the moisture, so don’t over-reduce the sauce. Turn burner off. Put the cooked lobster in the pasta cooking pot, add the sauce and put the pot on the turned off burner. Stir until the lobster is warmed, but not further cooked. Stir in the drained pasta. Make sure it's evenly covered with sauce. Heat a few moments longer on the turned off burner.

Divide the lobster linguine between 2 serving plates. Garnish plates with chopped parsley and insert two chive leaves (as shown) between two pieces of lobster meat to hold them in place. Dust around the chives with pulverized roe, if using.

I've made this dish for 30 years and never grow tired of it. If I’m feeling really fishy and almost rich, I sear a few scallops and add those, as well! When I want to stretch the lobster to feed a few more guests, I add 8-10 seared scallops (see my blog post Scallop Wallop for searing instructions) and double the rest of this recipe. I’ve made it with the addition of a bit of lump crab, too. Nothing succeeds like excess. You can even make it with only scallops, or with scallops and shrimp. The secret's in the sauce.

Till next time, keep on cookin'!

Copyright © 2013 Ev McTaggart