Chef Walter’s Flavors + Knowledge: Roasted Lobster
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Master Chef Walter Potenza, GoLocalWorcester Food Expert
A lobster is a crustacean in the family Nephropidae. Because several other taxonomic families are referred to as “lobsters,” some people distinguish the Nephropidae as the clawed lobster family, emphasizing the distinctive and familiar physical feature associated with the creatures in this family. Lobsters can be found all over the world's oceans, and they are a valued commercial harvest in many areas of the world. While lobster is regarded as a delicacy today, this wasn't always the case. Well through the 19th century, lobster was a poor man's food, and it was often used as bait for more appealing seafood species. While it might seem ludicrous to lobster fans today, people in regions like Maine would complain about being forced to eat lobster for weeks on end, with no culinary variation.
2 live 1 3/4 pound hard shell Maine lobster
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, finely diced
1/4 cup bourbon or Cognac
2 or 3 tablespoons dry white wine
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chervil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preheat the broiler or preheat the oven as hot as possible 500 to 550 degrees. Position the oven rack in the upper third of the oven. You may to shorten the cooking time slightly if the broiler rack is close to the heat. Quarter the lobsters, removing the tomalley and the roe if present. Place the pieces of lobster, shell side down, on a plate. Place the tomalley and roe in a small bowl. With a fork, break them into small pieces. Cover.
Place a heavy 12-inch saute pan over the highest heat possible. Allow the pan to heat for 3 to 5 minutes until it becomes extremely hot. Add the oil and heat until it forms a film on the surface of the pan. Slide the lobster pieces, shell side down, into the hot oil. Using tongs, move the pieces in order to evenly sear all the shells. Because the lobster pieces are not flat, you will need to hold them with the tongs and press the shells into the hot oil to accomplish this. The claws need to be seared on only one side. When the shells have all turned bright red, which should take no longer than 2 minutes, turn the pieces over. The oil will also have taken on a beautiful red tinge. Add the tomalley and roe into the pan. Place the pan in the oven. If using the broiler, cook 2 minutes. If using the oven, cook for 3 minutes. The shells should be slightly browned, even a bit charred in places. Remove the pan from the oven and return it to the stove at maximum heat. Turn off the oven and put your plates in to warm. This will take only a minute. Warning: The handle of the pan will be red hot and will stay hot until the dish is complete. To avoid burns, wear oven mitts from now until the dish is complete. Add the shallots to the fat in the pan and stir. Add the bourbon and ignite. Shake the pan until the flames die down. Add the wine and let liquids in the pan reduce until the pan is almost dry. Turn the heat to low. Quickly remove the pieces of lobster and place, shell side down, on warm plates. Return the pan to the heat and add the butter, chervil, and chives. Swirl or stir the butter into the pan to create a creamy sauce with the pan juices. Adjust flavors to taste with salt and pepper. Use very little salt, if any, because the lobster adds its own salt. Spoon the sauce over the lobster pieces and serve at once.
Master Chef Walter Potenza is the owner of Potenza Ristorante in Cranston, Chef Walters Cooking School and Chef Walters Fine Foods. His fields of expertise include Italian Regional Cooking, Historical Cooking from the Roman Empire to the Unification of Italy, Sephardic Jewish Italian Cooking, Terracotta Cooking, Diabetes and Celiac. Recipient of National and International accolades, awarded by the Italian Government as Ambassador of Italian Gastronomy in the World. Currently on ABC6 with Cooking Show “Eat Well." Check out the Chef's website and blog