Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Creamy Lobster on Puff Pastry

In the early 19th century, before the commercialization of lobster gathering, these succulent crustaceans were considered poor man's food, plentiful and easily available (they would wash on shore by the hundreds and harvested from tide pools). Lobsters were gathered by poor families and fed to servants by their colonial masters. However, by the mid-1800's, lobsters slowly became highly prized and sought after by the masses, with commercial lobstering going into full swing along the coast of Maine. As expected, overfishing of lobsters soon became a big problem and only after strict conservation laws were enacted to protect the industry that the species became sustainable again.

Lobsters are usually cooked either by steaming or boiling. Unless you have steaming pans readily available, boiling is the easiest method to use. Using a stockpot, first bring the water to a rolling boil and then add the lobster, submerging it entirely. Let it boil for 15-20 minutes and the lobster should be cooked. Remove the lobster from the pot and stick it in ice cold water for about 15 minutes so that the lobster would not continue cooking and become rubbery. Shucking lobsters take practice and after shucking literally 100's of lobsters on my job, I was able to shuck the two that I have here in under 3 minutes. I then used the discarded lobster bodies to make lobster stock, using the same pot of water that was used to boil them. This way, you make full use of every part of the lobster and the stock is something that I can use to make Newburg sauce or even lobster bisque in the coming days. Set the shucked lobster meat aside in the refrigerator for now.

To make the creamy sauce, you need butter, heavy cream or half and half, flour as a thickening agent, shredded parmesan cheese, dry sherry, frozen peas, diced red bell pepper, diced shallots (or onions), diced carrot, diced potato, celery, mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste. First, melt the butter in a sauce pan and then add the shallot and all the vegetables and cook until they become soft. Add the flour (same amount as the butter, if 4 oz. of butter, then add 4 oz. of flour) and cook for a couple of minutes. Next, add the sherry and then the cream or milk. Cook until the sauce thickens. Finally add the lobster meat and parmesan cheese and cook for just 2-3 minutes until the cheese melts. You are almost there.

For the puff pastry, it is as easy as going to your local supermarket and buying a box of puff pastry sheets. Cut them in any size or shape that you want and just bake them in the oven at 450F for about 20 minutes or until the shells become golden brown. Now arrange the puff pastry on a plate and pour the creamy lobster sauce over it. To make the presentation look better, gather the big chunks of lobster meat and place them on top of the puff pastry, highlighting the main ingredient. Top it all off with a sprig of parsley and there you have it, Creamy Lobster on Puff Pastry.

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