Today is a BIG day. Why? It’s the debut of our first guest blogger! I know a little bit about a lot of stuff, but I know even more people who know a little bit about a lot of stuff. Why should I only subject you to my stuff. You should get to know about ALL the stuff. That’s how this karma thing works, folks. So, without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to Matt. I mentioned him a little while ago. He’s the guy that got me all hooked up on the cold press coffee (if you missed that blog entry, you can find it here).
Today, he’s going to teach us all how to make Butter Poached Lobster Rolls. No, they aren’t gluten free. No, they aren’t on my doctor imposed diet plan. But she did say I could have a day off now and then. And what better day off, I say?! So. . . . . over to Matt. Oh. And as always. . . you’re welcome.
Hello Folks. I want to thank Wendy for her kind introduction earlier. My wife and I have only known her and Chris & the Girls since January, but we know good people when we meet them and so have happily become friends. I wanted to share one of my favorite Summertime recipes here as my first contribution to Wendy’s blog.
My wife and I spend a lot of time on the coast of Maine and we eat a lot of lobster. In fact, one time a few years back when I was younger, I made the vow to eat 100lbs of lobster on our two week vacation to Pemaquid. Some may call that glutenous and I’d agree, but I am what I am and I make no excuses (I got to 70lbs in 14 days).
The basic butter poaching method was made famous a few years back by Jonathan Keller, the head chef at the renowned French Laundry in Yountville, CA. This variation of the recipe is all about keeping the rolls as simple as possible. I don’t add celery or tarragon and although sometimes I’ll make my own mayo, this recipe uses your favorite store bought brand. So without further eloquence, here is your ingredient list:
½ cup distilled white vinegar
Two 1 ½lb Maine lobsters
1lb salted butter
4 top split hot dog rolls
1/4t sea salt, preferably Maine Sea Salt
Start by getting a large pot of water and the half cup of distilled white vinegar to a boil. The vinegar helps to keep the lobster meat from getting tough. Lets talk lobster for a moment. Don’t worry about killing your lobsters, they don’t scream and they don’t feel pain as they have no pain receptors. Use Maine lobster if you can. The colder the water source the better and when you buy your lobsters make sure you get ones with long antenna. Lobsters are basically canabillstic sea insects, but don’t hold that against them because they are delicious! Once caught however and removed from their natural food sources they will start eating each other and the first things they go after are each others antenna. So the shorter the antenna the longer they have been out of the ocean, the longer the antenna the fresher the lobster.
Carefully remove the bands from the lobster claws (I use scissors). We don’t need to cook up rubber with our meal. Once your water has started boiling, turn off the heat and drop the lobsters in head first. The American Indian has a custom where when they kill an animal they explain to them why they had to do it. It would be something along the lines of ‘Forgive me great bear but your fat will help us survive the winter’. I like the custom and so before I plunge my lobsters in I explain it to them. In this case I would just say “Butter poached lobster Rolls”, and in they go.
For pound and a halfers you want to steep the lobsters for three minutes and then quickly remove them to a cutting board. Twist off the claws and knuckles and place them back in the hot water for four more minutes. While they continue to steep, twist off the tails and remove the meat. Place the meat in one bowl and the shells in another larger bowl and when the claws are done do the same with them. Make sure to break up the shells into small pieces. Just twist off the legs and break them in half, pull the body from the shell and save it with the shell pieces.
I save the tomalley from the lobsters heads. Julie Child always said to “save the liver” and she was right. I freeze it and use it later for a Lobster Newburg or Thermadore or a Bisque or Chowder.
Now the next thing to do is the butter poaching. Start by cutting your tail meat in half lengthwise and removing the intestinal vein running down the middle. Then cut each tail half into three or four pieces, about the size of the knuckle pieces. This will help the lobster meat lie flat as you poach it. I like to keep the claw meat whole as it makes a nice impression when served.
The key thing here is the temperature of the melted butter, which is 190 degrees. Jonathan Keller creates an emulsion with his butter, but I really don’t see why that is necessary and so I just melt a pound of butter in a wide low pan over low heat and wait for the temperature to rise to 190. If you see your butter boiling or even simmering with little bubbles rising up then its too hot so reduce the heat or take it off the burner all together for a moment or three. You don’t want to boil the meat, just poach it.
When your thermometer has reached 190 degrees you want to lay the pieces in the butter in a single layer. Make sure that the meat is covered with the butter. The lobster will cool the butter quickly, so increase the heat slightly until you see that first bubble appear and then reduce it once more. Poach the lobster for eight minutes, flipping over the larger pieces halfway through and then using a slotted spoon, transfer the lobster meat to a paper towel lined plate. Take another doubled up sheet of paper towel and blot the excess butter from the lobster meat. Cover the meat with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.
Add the shell and body pieces to the butter and gently simmer over low heat for one hour with a lid slightly ajar. Stir the pieces every 15 minutes or so. Using a slotted spoon remove the large pieces of shell and body from the butter and discard.
Strain the lobster butter into a small bowl using a fine mesh sieve. Discard the solids in the sieve and place the butter in the refrigerator. After an hour or so the butter will have hardened and separated. Use a knife to loosen the butter from the bowl. Discard the milky liquid in the bottom of the bowl. Flip the hardened butter over and scrape the residual milky liquid from the bottom.
Your butter should be a beautiful coral color. This stuff is worth its weight in gold to a chef. You should have about one cup of lobster butter. You are going to need a few teaspoons to finish this recipe, but I usually cut it into quarters, wrap it with Press-n-Seal, place it in a ziplock bag and freeze them until needed. They will last for months that way. I use the butter for almost any lobster dish that calls for regular butter and it just kicks the recipe into another gear. It also goes great in sauces with fish or scallops and is KEY to making my Corn and Scallop Chowder. More about that recipe later, but now lets finish the rolls.
In a quart sized bowl, grate the zest of one lemon and add the mayonnaise and the sea salt and whisk to incorporate. Then add the lobster meat and stir gently to make sure all the pieces are coated and set aside.
Heat a large nonstick pan over medium low heat. Brush the lobster butter onto the sides of the rolls. If you have to, just warm the butter in the microwave so that it is spreadable. Lightly toast the rolls in the pan on both sides and then place the meat into each of the rolls, making sure to get one whole claw piece into one. Basically each roll should have a claw and knuckle and a half a tail each.
These rolls can be cut into thirds or quarters to make lobster roll sliders which are great for large parties. Love these with beer or wine and a bag of chips. They are great for a picnic, especially by the sea and whenever we went with our friends Mark and Cindy on their boat, we would bring a bag full of these tasty treats.
OK, thats about it for now. Summer is quickly winding down and I am already straining at the bit to start making comfort foods for the cooler weather. In fact I just made my Lamb Stew with Rosemary Dumplings two nights ago because it was rainy and about 72 degrees here! Each season brings on new cooking desires and I’m one of those people who does not get out of bed in the morning without planning for dinner that night, so without wishing the Summer away, the Fall can’t come quick enough!
Hope everyone liked this blog. Thanks again, Wendy, for the invite to contribute!
Take Care All,