Tag Archives: lobster

Lobster a L’Americaine

24 Feb

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I have to admit that I should have posted this a while ago – actually during Christmas week as it is something I used to make every Christmas Eve for my parents, siblings, partners and whoever was spending Christmas with us when I lived in North London.

My dad and I used to go to Billingsgate market at some ungodly, freezing hour of the morning but I relished it and for those of you living in London, I urge you to go if you never have.  You get the pick of the best fresh fish and seafood and all the atmosphere that markets in the early hours have to offer.  It was also the only way one could afford to cook 8 or 10 lobsters as they were less that half the price of the fishmongers or supermarkets and obviously much fresher.

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Anyhow, I digress.  This year, for various reasons, Mick and I decided to stay in Spain for Christmas by ourselves, and for the first time in 7 years my family opted to stay in London.  Strange though it was, it was enjoyable in a different kind of way and meant that despite this hideous recession, I was able to cook lobster for the two of us on Christmas Eve, using my old recipe (still on an apron that my dad brought back from the states I don’t know how many years ago – I have never written it out before, and had to have the apron on the work top until now that is!).   So here it is – the most delicious lobster dish if you want a change from cold lobster and salad – if you are on a budget, then serve half a lobster per person and throw in some plump prawns or langoustine at the end of cooking time.

It is not a difficult dish to make, just a little fiddly, you need time to prepare but the cooking bit is pretty last minute, so make up a green salad and lay the table in advance and serve the lobster with some jacket potatoes which can finish cooking whilst you cook and assemble the lobsters.  It has quite a few ingredients so take time to read the shopping list otherwise you end up missing something.  If you can’t find clam juice, simply leave it out or buy half a kilo (easily available here) and simmer them for a few minutes in some water and a decent splash of white wine, salt and pepper.  You can use the clams for a spaghetti vongole lunch!

Also, I have only ever cooked this on a gas hob – so if you have an electric hob just make sure you have a decent solid square pan and watch the heat!  – my dad bought me one that goes over the entire hob, which you do need if cooking for 6 of you – if you are cooking for two, then a decent roasting pan will do.  If you are cooking in warmer weather, then you could place the pan on the griddle of your barbeque – it may be easier.

Pour yourself a glass of Vina Sol, take a deep breath and have a go!

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My recipe is for 6, just adapt according to how many you are cooking for.

As this is an American recipe they use “cups” – 1 cup = 8 ounces

6 lobsters around 1lb each

Half a cup of olive oil

9 tbsps butter (I think this is a bit heavy handed, so half it!)

1 cup finely chopped onions

9 shallots, finely chopped

4 large cloves, crushed

2/3rd ‘s cup of cognac warmed

9 large tomatoes peeled and seeded

6 oz tomato puree

1 and a half cups of clam juice (you can find them in bottles, look up on the internet for stockists, or just don’t worry about it!)

1 and a half cups water

1 and a half cups dry white wine

3 tablespoons chopped tarragon (or 3 teaspoons dried)

6 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped

3 teaspoons salt (or less)

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon thyme, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried

3 tablespoons of butter, cut into small pieces (or less!)

3 additional tablespoons of chopped parsley

Ask your fishmonger to cleanly cut your lobsters in two if they are live and you can’t cope! – or you can buy cooked ones, you need to clean them whichever, just leaving the lovely white tail meat – break off the claws and crack the shells as this will make it easier to eat when they are covered in sauce!  If you are doing it yourself at home, make sure you catch the juice, liver and coral. (google it if you are not sure!).

Heat the oil and butter in your pan and add all the lobster pieces (only if they are uncooked, if cooked just put them in before flaming them in cognac below).   Cook until the shells turn red and then remove and set aside.  Add the onions, shallots, farlic and cook until transparent but not brown.  Return the lobsters and flame with the cognac and swirl until the flames subside and then add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, clam juice if using, water, wine, all the herbs, salt and cayenne (go easy on the cayenne as you don’t want to mask the wonderful flavours).  Simmer gently for 20 minutes and then remove the lobster again.  Over a high heat boil the liquid until slightly reduced – return the lobster with any juices reserved, plus the liver and coral. Now add a bit more butter ,check the seasoning and sprinkle with fresh parsley.  Serve on hot platters with lots of paper napkins and enjoy!  Trust me it is well worth the effort.