10 February, 2012

Culinary: Cogitation: Take the Lover's Leap with Lobster Stew

With less than a week to go until Valentine's Day, it's definitely not too soon to begin planning your special meal. You could go out to a fancy restaurant and shout sweet nothings at each other over the din of other diners, or your could elect to stay home and wow him (or her) with a special something you whipped up yourself.

And what could be more decadently special than lobster?  Some people believe are an aphrodisiac. I won't attest to the veracity of that statement, but I can tell you that a bowl of lobster stew and a glass of champagne can be the precursors to a cozy evening for two.

Note: This is best prepared the day ahead and reheated gently before serving. If possible, ask for at least one female lobster -- the roe (coral) will add a lovely color to the stew. If you're squeamish, you can eliminate the tomalley and roe, but they add a lot of flavor. In case you've never looked, the females' top set of feelers are soft and feathery (and usually crossed); the males' are hard, smooth and usually sticking out.  I regret to admit it, but the female also had a broader tail.

    2 1-3/4 pound lobsters
    ½ cup butter (1 stick)
    3 cups whole milk, heated 
    1 cup heavy cream, heated

    Plunge the lobsters into a large kettle of boiling salted water and boil them, over high heat for 15 minutes.
    Transfer the lobsters with tongs to a dish and let them cool.
    Break off claws at the body, crack them, and remove meat. Slit the underside of the body, remove and discard the sacs near the head and the intestines and reserve the tomalley and coral. Remove meat from the body and cut it into pieces.
    Force the reserved tomalley through a fine sieve into a bowl.
    In a large saucepan, sauté the tomalley and the coral in one stick of butter for three minutes. Add the lobster meat and sauté the mixture for five minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture stand for seven minutes. Slowly add one cup of heated milk, stirring. Add remaining milk and cream in a stream, stirring. Add salt and pepper to taste, let stew cool to room temperature and chill overnight.
    Reheat stew over very low heat and serve in heated bowls.

Serve with a warm baguette and a chilled white wine -- or champagne, of course.

Serves 3-4.

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