Saturday, April 23, 2011

Luscious Lobster Ravioli

The recipe I developed to stretch lobster also works well with crab as a much cheaper alternative, or prawn tails, and is just as delicious.
Also, save any shells left over as the basis of a bisque, further stretching your Euro.
As a poster Lá an Lúbáin at called it, Gliomach Sínte, stretched lobster
There is an illustrated guide on how to humanely kill a lobster at the end of the post so reader discretion is advised.

Quite simply, the whole concept of a kitchen garden is to deal with what you have at hand, and what is available.

Lobster, an utterly delicious food, but ridiculously expensive. Lobster, for me, is a very welcome gift from local fishermen, and it normally comes around Easter or Christmas. 
So, with a little imagination, two small lobsters can go a long way - and produce a rich, warm meal rather than a salad.

The thing is, we have been conditioned to serve the food on the shell with a salad and a light sauce, and that is perfect if you can afford it - but if your feeding more than 4 a half lobster each, then it gets very pricey very quick.
This recipe is loosely based on Lobster Newburg - which is quite apt in my case. Lobster Newburg was invented by Ben Wenberg, a Ships Officer.
He demonstrated the dish to New York restaurant manager Charles Delmonico in about 1876.
After refinements by the famous chief Charles Ranhofer - author of the Epicurean - the creation was sold in the restaurant as Lobster à la Wenberg and became very popular. 

An argument between Wenberg and Charles Delmonico caused the dish to be removed from the menu.
To satisfy patrons’ continued requests for it, the name was changed into an anagram - Lobster Newburg.
Lobster Newburg is related to the better known Lobster Thermidor, but Thermidor only appeared in the 1890's.
It could not be simpler, you do not need a pasta machine you might use 6 times a year, all you need is a rolling pin. 
2 cups flour 
2 large eggs, whole 
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 
1/2 tsp. sea salt 
3 tablespoons water 

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and process for 30 seconds.
Check consistency and add a small amount of flour is pasta is too wet, or a small amount of water if pasta is too dry. Whizz for another 30 seconds to incorporate any additions.

Turn dough out onto a pastry board, large chopping board or work surface sprinkled lightly with flour and knead by hand for a minute or two, until smooth.

Place the dough under a bowl to rest for 20 minutes before rolling, or refrigerate, tightly wrapped in plastic and stored in a plastic bag if not using right away.
Use within a few hours for best results.

Roll pasta out. Fold dough over and roll through again, gradually making the pasta thinner as it becomes smoother; dust lightly with flour as needed, but not too much.
It helps to brush off excess flour with a pastry brush.
When pasta is thin enough it is ready for use in making ravioli.
Use the pasta sheets as soon as they are rolled; dry pasta sheets don't seal as well at the edges as fresh sheets, causing the ravioli to separate when cooking.

If your pasta sheets have dried out, brush the edges with an egg wash or water (where the pasta is crimped together).

For this recipe you will need at least two sheets of pasta. The first one made can be draped over the back of a chair on a clean dishcloth, the second - base layer, can be left on the board - but make sure the board is well floured. You do not want this sticking when you lift.

This pasta dough is also great for fresh lasagne sheets.

2 lobsters (1 1/2 to 2 pounds each)
3 tablespoons olive oil
250 ml (1 teacup) white wine
125 ml (1/2 teacup) sherry or Madeira
500 ml (2 teacups) heavy cream
cracked pepper
pinch of cayenne
pinch of nutmeg
Beurre Manie (uncooked roux - See footnote 1)

For Ravioli parcel
Cooked Lobster tail meat
Freshly chopped chives 
Pinch of paprika 

I love to add a good tablespoon of chopped tarragon to the sauce, it really adds to the flavour.
Recently I also added mussels and cooked them in the sauce, they look fantastic, their dark shells surrounding the ravioli parcels.
1- kill the lobster** (See footnote 2)
2- Turn the lobster around and cut the tail and body in half long ways.
Cut the tail into sections.
3- Remove the claws and reserve.
4- Along the center of the lobster are three kinds of viscera, the dark green are the stomach and intestine that can be scraped out and discarded.
The yellow green and red coral are the tomalley and the roe which are delicious and may be left in.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy based pan.
Sear all the lobster tail meat pieces until bright red.
Remove lobster tail meat from pan - at this point you can start to de-glaze the pan (see further on) and cook any extra shellfish.
Mix the cooked lobster tail with the chopped chives and paprika, and place on the ravioli sheet, about a tablespoon per parcel.

If you want extra zing, a little chili or a squeeze of lemon juice can be added.
Again, be sure that the surface under the base pasta sheet is well dusted with flour and will not stick to the work surface.

Then apply a light eggwash beween the food clusters and drape over the second sheet.
Press down between the food parcels, then using a glass or a cookie cutter cut carefully around them.
Crimp the edges with a fork to seal.
5 minutes before the sauce is ready, drop the ravioli parcels in boiling water. They will float to the surface when cooked.

If you are in any way nervous about the parcels splitting, you can also use a steamer or fish kettle, although this will make the pasta a little dry, but it's still nice

While preparing the lobster ravioli packages, put the white wine on the pan to deglaze.
Reduce by half

If you have mussels, cockles or other shell fish, you can also add these to the wine during the reduction process to cook.
I now always use mussels as it adds to the presentation

When the wine is reduced remove and put aside any extra cooked shellfish.
Add cream, Madeira/Sherry and seasonings, add the lobster claw meat to the pot and cook until the meat is cooked through, about 8 minutes.

Whisk in beurre manie a little at a time until sauce begins to thicken.
Simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes.
Return any extra shellfish 5 minutes from the end of cooking, the same time as you start to cook the ravioli parcels.
Adjust seasonings and serve sauce over cooked ravioli, surrounded by the extra cooked shellfish.
This meal is very rich, and very adaptable. If you don't like the idea of making ravioli parcels, use the fresh pasta to make tagliatelle instead, and serve all the lobster meat over the pasta as a sauce, this will stretch the lobster meat even further. 

Best advice from Spectabilis of
Beurre manié sounds fancy but its easy to have in store. Put a couple of ounces of butter in a bowl and melt it in the microwave or in a pot.
Then add the same volume of flour, stir well and cook again until it bubbles.
If you let it cool and store it in the fridge. It keeps for ages.
It will make a lump-free sauce in a minute - just flake into any boiling liquid- milk, stock wine or whatever - and whisk.

This is the most humane way to kill a lobster.
This is a living creature, and deserves to be dispatched as quickly as possible to reduce stress.

The main thing is to be quick, clean and confident - don't mess about. 

This job is one that is best left to a 10 inch chefs' knife, and one with a good deal of heft.
Make sure the rubber bands around the claws stay on during this process, as you don't want to be dodging the claws while cutting up the lobster. 
Also, I would advise that you place a dishcloth under the animal for extra grip if at all nervous abour slipping.
To kill the animal as quickly as possible, you are going to cleave the brain in half.
You must first cut it in half down the center of the head part of the body. 
You will find a crease in the shell that will give you guide and purchase.
In one movement pierce the shell to the cutting board and cleave forward between the eyes to finish the cut.
This kills the lobster as quickly and painlessly as possible.

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  1. I came here from
    Your pasta recipe looks brilliant - I always thought a pasta machine was needed.
    I will try it at the weekend!

  2. Thanks for the feedback Caroline - don't forget, keep it thin, thinner than you think you need


Thanks for commenting - its cool that you took the time