Unless you're kosher or are allergic to shellfish, it's pretty much a guarantee that you'd like a lobster roll.
As my wife is from Boston I've had my share of the crustacean and over time have developed some recipes of my own.
I ordered 40 lbs of live Maine lobster from Ready Seafood for a fundraising dinner, allowing me to do something most people will not have the opportunity to do, make lobster rolls with just leg and head meat.
I dispatched of the lobsters with a knife rather than boiling them to death, then removed their tails and took the meat out raw. I removed the claws and front legs, and placed them in a steamer, rinsed out the heads and thorax (yes, I tossed the tomalley), then placed them in my stock pot to make the base of my Lobster Corn Tortilla Soup.
I tossed the tomalley in part because I didn't want enzymes from the liver to start breaking down the meat in the head and thorax.
After removing the meat from the lobster legs with a rolling pin and picking the heads of the good bits they contain, I set that aside for one of the rolls. To have this much leg and head meat is truly a rare treat. This lobster roll will be served raw with candied jalapeno, candied meyer lemon, celery leaf, peas, spicy pickled watermelon rind, and mayo.
I broiled two pasilla chilies along with one bunch of spring onion until the skin on the chilies was blistered and the onions had a nice char.
Place the pasilla chilies in some tupperware and close so they steam while they cool and peel the outer, charred, layers of the spring onions off and add to a pot of melted butter - approximately 2 sticks for 28 lobsters.
Once the chilies cool, removing the exterior of the chilies, leaving only the roasted pulp, is quite easy. Add the pulp to the butter and charred onions and puree.
Placed all of the lobster tail meat in a vacuum seal bag, along with the cooled butter, and placed it in the fridge so the butter will harden.
Once cooled, seal the vacuum bag and it's ready for some sous vide cooking. Granted, I don't own a circulating sous vide machine, but I have a candy thermometer and a large pot which allows me to control the temp of the water well enough to achieve the results I seek. If you don't have a candy thermometer - bring a stock pot to the point just before boiling, turn the heat off, wait five minutes, then place the cold, sealed, lobster tail bag in the pot.
I cooked the lobster tails at 135 degrees for about 20 minutes then I removed the bag from the water.
One secret ingredient in my warm lobster roll is actually seared scallops. Dry sea scallops brown beautifully, generating an umami rich exterior from the maillard reaction.
Give the cooked (still medium rare) scallops a rough chop and add them to the lobster tails, also roughly chopped. This is ready to serve, though I admit the green butter does not make the most appetizing visual display. When next I make these I'll add some fresh herbs and diced chilies - likely some fresh marjoram, but perhaps tarragon or mint - experimenting will be fun.
The cold lobster roll is assembled using the ingredients stated above - I make the candied jalapeno and meyer lemon by soaking finely diced jalapeno (de-seeded) and sliced meyer lemons in a sugar syrup (2 parts sugar to water by volume) then roasting at 350 until the sugar caramelizes. I dice the lemons after they are cooked. Make sure to do this on wax paper or a silicone mat if you want to remove the candied goodies from your pan.
Fresh peas, celery leaf, and mayo round out the roll. I served these on split Hawaiin bread but traditional buttered hot dog buns would suffice.
For sides I made a cold corn salad and old bay steak fries.
This is a bisque meets chowder meets soup. It's Nuevo England, which is essentially the soul of my home since I am a Texan and my wife grew up in Boston.
The recipe began with two lobsters. Sorry fellas.
I have to admit I don't enjoy putting live lobsters into boiling water, but you aren't going to get this flavor without that process and I'm not going to pretend that buying a cooked lobster would have saved them from that fate. There's something very profound about being connected to your food from life to plate and I have no regrets about being an omnivore.
After removing the meat , and separating the gills from the body, I placed the shells back in the pot of boiling liquid, brought it to a simmer and let cook, stirring occasionally for about 2 hrs.
Meanwhile I set out to create the corn chowder component.
First I removed the kernals from two ears of corn (about 1.5 cups), diced a sweet onion (about 1 cup of diced onion), diced 1 carrot (about 1/2 cup of diced carrot), diced 2 fennel stalks (about 1/2 cup of fennel stalk), and 3 cloves of garlic (mashed).
I sauteed these in coconut oil along with 2 sprigs of thyme until the onions began to sweat and become translucent, then I added 10 cups of the lobster broth, 16 oz of coconut milk, 12 oz of tomato paste, 2 teaspoons of sea salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, 2 teaspoon of palm sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of chipotle powder, 1/2 teaspoon of saffron, and 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika.
I brought the mix to a boil, then lowered to a simmer and let cook for 1 hr - stirring occasionally - then, after removing the twigs of thyme, I placed it all in a food processor and ran until the mix was smooth. I placed this back in the pot, added 1/2 cup of cream sherry and brought to a boil to burn off the alcohol.
Salt to taste at this point but there's no need to add more spice because you will garnish with chipotle morita, sour cream, cilantro, corn tortilla strips (freshly fried are best), fried shallot, chives, avocado, and a wedge of lime.
You can also add some diced banana (yes, banana) and sliced radish (they look pretty but I think they are the least interesting topping flavor wise).
Place the tortilla strips in the bowl first, then ladle the soup over the strips and add the toppings.
If you don't want to use the lobster meat for a second course, like Lobster Rolls, put it in the soup.
A rolling pin can release some of the sweetest meat (and hardest to obtain) in a lobster, found in the legs. Just snip the ends of the legs off with your kitchen shears and roll the legs under a pin to squeeze the meat out.
When making Lobster Rolls, bisques, or other soups, this meat is a great addition.
Seen next to the other treasure extracted from the lobsters, you can see that the quantity is substantial enough to make the effort worth it.
Here are the other tools I had to use to pick these lobsters clean. I started out with the mallet, placing the lobster under a towel, but I soon ended up using the trusty back side of my favorite chinese cleaver.
It's March Madness so I cooked up 40 lbs of wings for my office mates and we're projecting games onto a movie screen.
Most people's brackets are already busted after Day 1 but everyone can still be a winner.
Guess how many wings are in this bowl and win 4 Free Bottles (any flavors)! Hint - you can't see all the wings.
As for the wings, I tried something new and it worked out great. After brining the wings I strained the brine as I normally do., then I mixed the spices that I caught in a fine mesh strainer and mixed them with olive oil then tossed the wings in the blend before baking them on parchment paper at 425 degrees. Turned out great!
Even people who don't like Brussel Sprouts will like these.
Super simple and everyone loves them, they just take a little bit of prep work.
Cut (don't bother washing yet) the bottom 1/3" off your brussel sprouts. From the bottom, peel the leaves off the center.
After you've peeled a few layers of leaves, you'll note that it is getting increasingly harder - move on to next brussel sprout. Set aside the half naked ones for use in another recipe, toss the leaves in a colander for washing.
Now there are two ways to continue - one is both easier and healthier for a home chef, and the other is how a Chef might do it a restaurant.
First, the healthy home option.
Mix 1 teaspoon of curry powder and 1 teaspoon of sea salt with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Drizzle the flavored oil over the brussel sprout leaves, then spread them across a baking sheet and place in a 350 degree oven. I use convection if it is available.
1 lb of brussel sprouts trimmed of their first 3 layers of leaves covers about 1 hotel pan. Use a silicon mat or parchment paper.
Cook the leaves for about 10-15 minutes - looking for them to get crispy and even a bit brown on the edges.
The Chef way, stolen from the award winning Uchiko Restaurant in Austin, is made by flash frying the brussel sprout leaves, then drizzling them with a 1:1 simple syrup flavored with fish sauce. Just mix 1 part sugar with 1 part water (by weight - remember 1 part water + 1 part sugar = 1.5 parts simple syrup) over low heat until sugar is dissolved (about 10 min). Then add seasoning, in this case curry powder (to taste) and voila.
Poblano Pea Puree is a great pairing for lamb and seafood.
Savory, tangy, and fresh, this balances fatty meats and compliments both fresh white fish and oilier fish like salmon and mackerel.
Place two poblano peppers under the broiler until their skin blisters and chars on all sides, then place in an empty grocery bag and fold it closed to steam the skin off. Ziplocs work better for steaming, but we're trying to use less melted plastic around here.
After about 15 minutes, take the peppers out and the waxy skin will peel off easily. Remove the seeds, stem, and membrane and place in food processor / blender / stick blender.
To this add the juice of 1 Meyer lemon. If no meyer lemon, then use regular lemon and a touch of orange juice. Lime would be better if I was preparing this for seafood, but it was created to accentuate the buttery sweetness of lamb when brined in the Lime Jalapeno Fajita Bath Brine Concentrate.
Quickly blanch 1/2 cup of peas in boiling water - about 30 seconds. Add these to the mix.
You can add 1/4 cup mint or cilantro, or a mix of both.
Finally, add 1 clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon cumin.
Puree together and that's it. If you want to spice it up, add a jalapeno or serrano to the mix.
The loin roast weight 2.5 lbs, but I diluted it with pineapple juice instead of water as I normally would and brined it for less than 1 hr per lb as I normally suggest, going for just 2 hrs. It could have gone longer but I wasn't familiar enough with the cut of meat or the kitchen I was to be cooking in to feel confident.
I pre-heated the oven to 450 F and got a stainless steel pan to medium high before I removed the lamb from the brine.
A little olive oil in the pan and the lamb loin went in whole as I browned all sides before placing it in the oven for 8-12 minutes, aiming for medium rare.
At home I would have reached for grape seed oil, which has a higher burning point, and I may not dilute the lime jalapeno fajita bath brine with pineapple juice in the future as the sugars burnt too quickly in the pan.