Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Creamy Maine Lobster Broth AND "Macaroni & Cheese" -- Butter-Poached Maine Lobster with Creamy Lobster Broth and Mascarpone-Enriched Orzo

It's two... two... two dishes in one!

A few days ago, I did a quick inventory of my freezer and found the three lobster bodies left over from the Celine Dion lobster dish I did in May and thought I'd make some lobster bisque. Then, I remembered that The French Laundry Cookbook had a recipe for Creamy Maine Lobster Broth, so I thawed those suckers and set about making this dish.

As I was thumbing through the book, I realized the recipe made 2C of broth... the same amount needed for the "Macaroni & Cheese" dish. Fancy that. So, while I was disappointed in a way that I wouldn't be able to serve the broth on its own as a canapé (because even the photo of the broth in the book smells amazing - Keller really should consider scratch-n-sniff in the next edition), I was happy to knock out two dishes in one go.

Let's start with the Creamy Maine Lobster Broth. The first thing I did was put the thawed, quartered lobster bodies in a braising pan with some already-hot canola oil to sear them for about 3-4 minutes:

I added some chopped tomatoes, carrots and tarragon:

Then, I covered this mixture with water and brought it to a boil:

I reduced the heat and let it simmer for about an hour. I strained the stock into a large bowl, smashing the lobster bodies in the strainer to get all the juices out. I then strained the liquid again into a clean saucepan:

I simmered this liquid for a few hours until it had reduced to one cup of liquid:

I added the heavy cream, stirred, and reduced this mixture to two cups:

I strained this through a chinois into a container and stored it overnight in the refrigerator. I tasted a bit of it before doing so, and wow. Just wow. The flavor was so deep and intense. Just like the Cream of Walnut Soup, taking a sip of this made me close my eyes and smile like the giddy little nerd I am. Amazing. I can't wait to make this in the fall when it's cooler outside and the warmth in both flavor and temperature can more readily be appreciated. Man, I love tarragon (so, why don't you marry it), and even though it can be overpowering sometimes, it was perfect in this dish. Absolutely perfect.

With the Creamy Maine Lobster Broth completed and chilling overnight, it was time to move on to do the prep for "Macaroni & Cheese." I will admit that I am a macaroni and cheese aficionado. I love all kinds -- from the blue box to the homemade, to the haute cuisine. I don't discriminate. Every form of macaroni and cheese has its place. This one just earned a place in my ongoing repertoire for special occasions because it was delicious. And, it involved poaching lobster in BUTTER, which as you know is a favorite pasttime of mine.

Let's start with the lobster meat. I bought three lobsters at BlackSalt:

You know the drill here: boil water in one pot, put lobsters in another, pour boiling water (with a bit of vinegar in it) onto live lobsters, listen to their claws bang against the side of the pot in a fit of rage as you hide behind the door to the laundry room because they MIGHT KILL YOU SOMEHOW while you are cooking them, watch the bubbles rise out of their backs, then see that after 2 minutes they stop moving completely. For a complete description of the lobster cooking and meat removal process, read this post. Last time, I didn't have a photo of the poaching-in-butter part. I do this time, but it comes later in the write-up, so stay tuned. In the meantime, please enjoy this lovely photo of the lobster meat I ripped up my hands to get out of the sea-faring beasts:

I wrapped the plate of lobster meat in plastic wrap and put that in the fridge to chill overnight. I finished cleaning the bodies and put them in a plastic bag to store in the freezer. I checked The French Laundry Cookbook to make sure I'd done everything I needed to do that night so that I'd only have to do the finishing steps the next day, when I realized that I'd thrown away the coral with all the other lobster innards and gunk. Crap. I suck. Guess I won't be making the coral oil. I'll have to do it next time.

This afternoon, I took the lobster meat out of the refrigerator to slowly bring it to room temperature. I also put the lobster broth in a saucepan and brought it to a simmer. I reduced it from 2C to just a little over a cup -- more like a sauce consistency than a broth or a bisque. I removed it from the heat and made the orzo:

I used wholewheat orzo because I forgot to buy regular orzo at the grocery store, and my lovely neighbor Linda was kind enough to come to the rescue with orzo she had in her pantry. I tell ya -- between Holly and her tomatoes and brown sugar for the nectarine salad and Linda and the orzo, I have some awesome friends, don'tchathink?

After the orzo was cooked and rinsed in cold water, I added it to the lobster broth. Next, I stirred in a few tablespoons of mascarpone cheese and some salt:

Hello, lov-ah..... Is there anything better in this world than lobster broth with mascarpone? Sweet fancy Moses, I wish you could have been in my kitchen to smell (and taste!) this. If "creamy" had a smell, this would be it -- a little sweet, a little savory, smooth, silky, so not fattening at all, and delicious. When everything was combined, I removed it from the heat and got ready for the final step -- poaching the lobster. In butter. Oooooohhhhhh yyyeeeeaaaahhhh. (chick-chick, chick-a-chi-kaahh) Are you ready? Can you handle it?

Whew -- that was nice, wasn't it? Here, have a cigarette.

The lobster only took a few minutes to warm in the butter, and while it was warming, I got everything ready for plating. Here goes:

That's the orzo/lobster broth/mascarpone mixture with some fresh chives. I topped it with a piece of tail meat and a lobster claw:

And, for the final touch, a parmesan crisp on top:

(NOTE: you can see the makings of a parmesan crisp here)

I called the gang over for a tasting, and even though those crazy kids LOVED the soft-shell crabs (which I still can't comprehend), they hated this. Fine. More for the adults to eat, I say. It was really rich, but really good. The lobster meat was tender and the tail meat wasn't as tough as the last time I made lobster. The wholewheat orzo made it heartier than if I had used regular orzo, but that was fine with me. Overall, I think this one was a homerun. I honestly don't know how anything with lobster poached in butter could be bad, do you?

Up Next:
Cauliflower Panna Cotta with Beluga Caviar (featuring three main ingredients I loathe -- cauliflower, oysters and caviar; I can only guess how this one is going to turn out!)

Brands Used:
Fresh, live lobsters from BlackSalt
Produce from Safeway
Tarragon and chives from my garden
Organic Valley cream
365 canola oil
365 organic butter
Orzo from neighbor Linda's pantry (thank you!!)
Parmigiano-Reggiano from Whole Foods
Vermont Butter & Cheese mascarpone

Music to Cook By: Meiko; Are We There Yet. After years of overdosing on Jenny Lewis/Rilo Kiley, I've been off the strummy-strummy-la-la wagon for awhile... until I heard Meiko on a KCRW podcast this week. Her voice is similar to Beth Sorrentino's (Suddenly Tammy) with a little more smoke, rasp, and maturity (even though I think she's all of 19). She's young, and unproven, but I was impressed by her debut release. And, she's still so new she only has a MySpace page, which... ew, but I think she'll go places.


Anonymous said...

DG--I'm very surprised that you've returned to shellfish so quickly after the Great Softshell Crab Defacing Incident of 2007. I admire you for that. I do, seriously. I didn't even laugh this time when I pictured you hiding in the laundry room.

Okay, that was a total lie. I nearly wet my drawers. But I'm still proud of you.

And the dish looks delish, even though I'm not a fan of orzo.

Anonymous said...

Ooooh, lobster glaze. It's ambrosia. It really is.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that looks fabulous. Oh, and I love your writing, by the way.

Unknown said...

mmm, just stumbled upon your site. sounds delicious, good pix too. The livestock tails freak me out too, I always break down when I look at those guys with their little rubberband hand cuffs on, but at the same time, they resemble big insects and aren't warm and fuzzy.

Steve Dunham said...

I also made the "Macaroni and Cheese" a couple of weekends ago. I served it as a first course before the "Guinea Fowl wrapped in Confit Byaldi" that weekend.

I tweaked the recipe a little. I only had one lobster for four people, so I used both the shell and body for the sauce and served smaller portions.

The creamy lobster broth kinda reminded me of ice cream. I'm tempted to try to run it through an ice-cream maker sometime.

Both dishes turned out really well. They required a lot of work on Saturday, but only about 30 minutes of prep and cooking on Sunday. (I finished both at the same time and held the Guinea Fowl in a 170 F oven while we ate the lobster.)

Alice Q. Foodie said...

Eee gads that looks good. I just love laughing at your posts. I wish you had a feed so I could add you to my yahoo page!

Unknown said...

Oh my god that looks and sounds so yummy!!! You should have a warning, do not read at lunch time, of course it's my own fault, but now all I want is some of that deliciousness.

Unknown said...

I came upon you blog after a recommendation on slashfood.

You are so funny and wite with "tongue in cheek too"!!!!!!!

Let us know when you are to write your first book and I'll be first in line!!!!!!!!

pdxblogmommy said...


Lobster Porn.

Butter and Lobster Porn.

AND "Macaroni and Cheese". I love the quotes.

I think this dish sent me right over the edge in the richness of it and the texture of it and the pure decadence.

Oh, wait...I wasn't there. Didn't taste it.

Sure looks damn good though. I am living vicariously through your neighbors. No work, just good eats. LOVE it. Thank YOU for working though.

Rachel Luxemburg said...



Anonymous said...

we are so blessed to be your tasters! this was great and definitly took care of my lobster fix (for the week).
love your green tomato neighbor:)xo

Erin said...

I've been reading your blog for a while and love that it's more about the cooking process than the recipes in and of themselves.

I love lobster in everything, especially macaroni and cheese. It sounds divine! So sad it's so darn expensive!

Jim said...

Ye gods, am I glad someone linked me to your blog! I love your step-by-step photos and your writing style. And that dish looks incredible!

sarahsouth said...

this is really impressive. BRAVO

Anonymous said...

I've done this dish a 6 times or so over the last year and never get tired of it.

It didn't look like you emulsified the butter for the lobster though, one of my favorite things.

good work, I'll be back to the site to keep up with your adventures.

Unknown said...

sorry, I must be a johnny-come-lately. I discovered your blog about 2 weeks ago and in my ocd way I have the need to read to from the beginning. Reading this dish almost made me cry in the way that good writing makes the brain taste the food.


Patrick said...

Great play-by-play documentation and images! I finally tried my hand at the full dish since I simply used the method of poaching the lobster each New Year. As Thomas Keller fans, my wife purchased a signed copy of the book for my birthday a couple years ago and it is an amazing cookbook. The dish ended up spectacular (if I do say so myself) and definitely satisfied my lobster fix for a while. I noticed that you did not further reduce the broth to a saucier consistency. Was that intentional? Also, did you prepare the coral oil? It definitely adds a distinct flavor element. Here's a pic of my attempt.

Mac 'n Cheese Close up

Cheers and Happy New Year!