Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Butter Poached Lobster

For an updated set of photos and instructions on butter poaching lobster (re: prettier looking post) check out my lobster roll recipe.

Here's #3 from my New Year's Resolution list: butter poached lobster.

Ingredients:
- 1 small whole lobster (or one big lobster tail), raw, NOT cooked
- 3/4 stick of butter, cut into 1/2 tablespoon pieces
- 1 tablespoon water

** I used a fresh live lobster but I was SO scared and squeamish the whole time. I totally regretted it, except for the fact that fresh lobster tastes so much better than frozen or dead-and-sitting-on-ice-for-two-days. I'm still traumatized because you're pretty much handling a giant bug that wiggles its feelers and has creepy crawly legs. Seriously, feel free to use lobster tails if you don't want to have to deal with the creepy-crawly bits.

Step 1: Removing the lobster meat from the shell.
Bring a big pot of water to a boil and add the lobster and turn off the heat. Allow the lobster to sit for three minutes. Drain the pot and shock the lobster in an ice bath or by running cold water over it. You don't want this step to cook the lobster through. You just want to be able to remove the shell easily.
showering beforehand

tick tock.
post hot tub shower
There are loads of ways to get a lobster out of its shell: hammer, crab crackers, sheer muscle! However, I find that using scissors is the easiest way. It's a tidier way since it won't send shards of shell flying all over the place nor will it squirt juice in your eye - as long as you are gentle. I discarded the head immediately (because it is ugly, gross, and full of slime) and just worked on getting meat out of the tail and claws. If you are patient and you think it is worth it, you can try and get meat out of the legs, either by cracking the shell or squeezing the meat out by pressing it with a rolling pin. But the legs creeped me out too much so I just tossed those out too.
Here's the beautiful meat - removed from its shell.
Step 2: Making a beurre monté.
What's a beurre monté? It's the French term for emulsified melted butter. Normally when you melt butter, like in the microwave, it looks like yellow liquid with little white solids floating around in it (see below). However, the technique described below will form a smooth, creamy looking sauce.
melted butter
Start by cutting 3/4ths of a stick of butter into small pieces - I like 1/2 tablespoon pieces.
Next, in a small sauce pan, add in 1 tablespoon of water and turn the heat on low. It won't take long for the tiny bit of water to start simmering. As soon as you see it start to steam, add in the first piece of butter and whisk. The product in the pan will look pale yellow and slightly foamy. Add in another piece of butter and whisk again. Keep adding in the butter pieces, making sure to wait until each piece is completely melted before adding in another, until you've used it all up. **Never let the pan get so hot that the butter mixture starts to boil and bubble. If it does, the sauce will separate and you'll be left with an ugly mess.

The resulting sauce will be a lovely pale yellow. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Step 3: Poaching the lobster.
Leave the heat low and gentle, because we want to ensure that the sauce doesn't separate, and add in the lobster meat. Using a spoon, baste the meat by pouring the butter over the top and occasionally turn the meat over. Let it cook for about 5 minutes (you can even set a timer) and you'll be left with the most tender lobster you've ever eaten.
Beautiful. Serve with rice and asparagus, using the now lobster-flavored butter as a lovely accompanying sauce OR wait for tomorrow's post to see what I did with it all.


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