lobster

Part 5 - Poor Man's Lobster Bisque

This started out as a four-part post, but lobsters just keep giving. So here's another classic - Lobster Bisque. Bisque is the best way to savour every last scrap of your fruits de mer. A lobster's casing is full of flavour. You know what they say - waste not, want not. Next time you prepare crustaceans, remember to put a bisque on the menu too.

The only reason I'm calling this a poor man's version is because I don't put any of the meat back into the broth. It's all carcass and shells, veggies, a dash of cheap white wine, and home-smoked bacon. Part 1 - Cooking the Lobster Part 2 - Lobster Eggs Benedict Part 3 - Flatbread Lobster Roll Part 4 - Lobster Stuffed Shells

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

• shells and bodies of 4 lobsters, roughly chopped in pieces • 8 thick slices smoked bacon (optional) • 1 cup white wine • 2 medium onions, chopped • 2 medium carrots, chopped • 2 branches celery, chopped • 1 tablespoon tomato paste • 2 garlic cloves • 2 bay leaves • 2 sprigs of thyme • 1/2 cup butter • 1/2 cup flour

Directions

In a large pot, cook the bacon for 5 minutes. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half. Put the lobster shells in and just cover with water (or, for more flavour, cover with the liquid you used to cook the lobsters). Add bay leaves, thyme and tomato paste.

Simmer for 45 minutes.

Strain and discard the solids.

In the same pot, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Then add the liquid back to the pot a bit at a time. This will thicken the bisque. Season with salt and pepper.

Illustration by Kevin Sprouls.

Part 2 - Breakfast: Lobster Eggs Benedict

You've probably had eggs benedict with ham, smoked salmon, or spinach. Now try it with lobster. Let's add a side of asparagus, which also goes well with hollandaise sauce.Breakfast time! For your lobster cooking need go to: Part 1 - Cooking the Lobster Part 3 - Flatbread Lobster Roll Part 4 - Lobster Stuffed Shells Part 5 - Lobster Bisque

Hollandaise Sauce

• 4 egg yolks • 1 cup unsalted butter • 1 tablespoon lemon juice • 1 tablespoon white wine • pinch of salt • pinch of cayenne

Melt the butter in a small pan and spoon off the white froth that appears on top.

In a medium saucepan, put the egg yolks, lemon juice, white wine, and salt. On very low heat, whisk until the yolks are creamy, for about two minutes, removing the pan from the heat if it gets too hot. You must be careful not to overcook because you'll wind up with scramble eggs. Remove from heat and add the butter in drizzles. Never stop whisking. It's like making a mayonnaise. Alternatively, you can put the yolk mixture in a blender and pour in some of the butter, then blend, pour a little more, blend again - you get it. Keep a little glass of very cold water, and add a teaspoon or so if you see that the mixture is breaking. Once it's thick and all the butter has been absorbed, taste and season to your liking with more lemon juice, cayenne, and/or salt.

Keep in a warm place near the stove.

Poached Eggs

Bring a pot of water with 1-2 teaspoons of vinegar to a boil. Break each egg into a small bowl or cup. Before poaching the eggs, bring down the water to a simmer Carefully drop in the water no more than four eggs at a time. Cook 3 minutes and take the eggs out with a slotted spoon. Put them on a plate and dry them with paper towel. Repeat if you need more than four eggs.

Lobster

In a medium pan, warm up some olive oil with chopped, cooked lobster meat. I used a mix of claw and tail meat.

Assembly

Toast english muffins. On each slice, put some lobster then one poached egg and pour hollandaise sauce over it.

Asparagus

Bring a pot of water to boil. Throw in a good pinch of salt. Blanch the asparagus for two minutes. Put them directly into very cold water. Heat them a little in the oven or in a pan.

Serve and eat.

Part 1 - Cooking the Lobster

I'm making a five-part miniseries for HBO on lobsters - okay, not really, but that would be fun. We came up to New Brunswick for the week, and I've been spending quality cooking time with my dad. Outside on the deck, fixing up lobsters in the almost-spring sunshine. Making a small piece of the mountain smell like a summer bay and drinking beer. This kind of living is hard to beat. The first part of this mini-series (bear with me) is about how to cook your lobsters. It's quite simple; all you need is salty water and lobsters. But to make them even more flavorful you can use a court-bouillon (water with aromatics and spices). A court-bouillon is like a stock but quicker to make. In mine I used onions, celery, carrots, lemon, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, salt, and black pepper. But if all you've got on hand are onions and bay leaves, it's all good. We want only to boost the lobster's natural flavor a bit.

Use your judgement here about how much you'll really need. Don't go making 20 gallons of court-bouillon if you only need to cook one lobster. You need enough liquid to cover the lobsters.

Court-Bouillon

  • 1-2 onions
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorn
  • a couple tablespoons salt (must taste like sea water)

Put everything in a pot and fill it with water. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Cooking the Lobster

Get your court-bouillon boiling and drop the lobsters in, headfirst. Let the water boil again and then bring it down to medium heat. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes per pound the lobster weight. Our lobsters were 2 1/2 pounds, so we cooked them 12 1/2 minutes.

Remove from water with tongs. Crack open. Dip in butter. Pow.