Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Hard or soft, unmistakably delicious.. Maine lobster.
It’s hard to believe that at one point in time, lobsters were considered nothing more than a poor man’s dinner at best.. even used as bait by local fishermen. But once lobsters finally stumbled into the gourmet spotlight in the urban centers of Boston and New York, they are now hailed as one of the ‘must have’ foods when visiting Maine. With their bright red color and unmistakable flavor, lobsters are now forever linked with traditional Maine dining.
Nothing but the harder shelled variety is available during coolor months here, but with the dog days of summer bring lobsters with a much softer touch…
Ayup, soft shelled lobsters are now here. Which is better? Arguably,I think it is a draw. And one that can be boiled down to one of quality vs. quantity. Most visitors enjoy the summer prices, sometimes as low as $4 per pound.. tough to argue at these prices. The thing about soft-shells for a tourist is that it’s very easy to eat.. no crackers needed! But for the first time eaters, the soft shelled lobster is not all it’s cracked up to be. The reason they cost so little.. there’s not nearly as much meat. The new shell hasn’t had enough time to fill up, as opposed to our hard shelled lobsters overflowing with succulent meat. Flavorable as ever.. you bet! Yes, molting season does have it’s advantages and disadvantages. Dollar for dollar and pound for pound, I’ll take hard shelled lobsters anyday. But when you have a lobsterman friend, who generously shares his trappings with his good friends, especially on certain birthdays and holidays, I’ll gladly take either :) The menu could be anything from steamed, to lobster stew, or chowder to baked & stuffed, or lobster rolls… but this week I wanted to try something a little different, at least for me. So after a celebratory birthday steamed lobster dinner this week, I ‘knuckled’ :) two tails along with a few cups of broth and decided to try my hand at lobster risotto. I could easily eat risotto every night of the week. But this dish I think I’d save for special occasions.. unless of course you have your own lobsterman friend too!. Creamy, rich and absolutely marvelous flavor. Thanks John for such a great gift.
Cooked lobster meat
3 cup seafood broth
2 TBLS white truffle oil
2 carrots, grated
¼ cup shallots, minced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 TBLS salt free butter
zest of one orange
1 cup arborio rice
sprig of fresh thyme
1/2 cup white wine
2-3 cups low sodium chicken broth
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Simmer chicken broth and keep warmed. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add shallots and carrots and sautee for a few minutes. Add arborio rice & stir around cooking for two minutes more until all the rice is well coated. Add white wine and reduce heat to low. Simmer until wine is fully absorbed, stirring constantly. Add 2 cups chicken broth and 1 1/2 cup seafood broth. Simmer on low until the rice becomes creamy, adding the rest of the seafood stock and broth by ladleful until it is gone, stirring often about 20 minutes or so. Add lobster meat, fresh thyme, orange zest, butter, and red pepper flakes, stirring until heated through. Remove from heat. Stir in truffle oil,parsley and ground pepper. Allow it to rest a few minutes and then give it one last good stir and serve. This is one risotto I wouldn't consider adding any cheese to. I wanted the lobster and truffle oil to shine through.. and it surely did! Enjoy.