So, rumor on the street is that the lobster fisherman are suffering. Prices are down, both due to people cutting back on luxuries, but also to a surplus of supply (lobster fisheries are one of the few fisheries that are actually doing really, really well). So that translates into an enormous drop in lobster prices. The last few weeks, lobster has been selling for $6 a pound at 99 Ranch in San Diego.
So I *love* lobster. Boiled lobster and lobster bisque in particular. But I recently read about butter-poached lobster over at Michael Ruhlman's blog and in The French Laundry Cookbook. So of course, I had to try it. Well, the lobsters at 99 Ranch are enormous, so I purchased one 5-lb live lobster for my wife, my 3 ½ year old and me.
We start with a crazy-huge pot o' boiling water, a crazy huge empty pot with lobster in it, and a decent sized pot with ice-water in it.
Pour the boiling water on top of that enormous live lobster. Don't worry, it's a quick death.
Put it on the stove, and boil for 4 minutes (for a 5-lb lobster, shorter for a smaller one). I wrestled that enormous lobster out of the pot (this was the second-biggest challenge of this meal). A 5-lb lobster is really, really big.
Tear the claws off, and toss them back in the water for 3 more minutes.
Put the body and tail into the ice water to cool off.
Toss the claws in there when they're done. You want to halt the cooking. Once cooled, pull out the meat. If you keep it in the shape it's in, it'll be prettier. It's not necessary, but it is pretty cool to serve lobster that hasn't been overly handled.
So, I'm going to spare you, dear reader, from the photos I have of tearing apart a 5-lb lobster. The tail was no problem, but as it happens, the claw shells are significantly thicker in a 5-lb lobster. Let's just say I pulled tools out of the garage to get this thing open. We'll leave it at that, yes we will...
Now, you have all the lobster meat out of the claws, the tail, the knuckles. If you want (I want!), dump the green stuff out of the lobster shells and save the shells for making a stock later. It's easy to freeze them now and make a stock later.
Now start the butter sauce. You'll need:
1 oz water1 lb butter, chopped into smallish chunks
Heat the water and one chunk of butter in a thick bottomed saucepan over low heat. I use my million-year old Le Creuset saucepan my mom got at a garage sale for a few bucks. Stir constantly to emulsify the butter in the water.
As the chunk melts and emulsifies, add another chunk. Repeat with each chunk until you have no butter left, this will take 10ish minutes.
Stir. Stir. Stir. When all of the butter is emulsified in there, warm it to 150°F. Drop the lobster meat in there.
The nice thing about poaching shellfish in butter at this temperature is that it's pretty challenging to overcook it. Aim for 10 minutes in the butter, but if you have to hold it in there longer (up to 20 minutes total) while you finish the sides, that's okay. Serve garnished with chives, and drizzled with the butter sauce.
This lobster was perfectly cooked, delicious and the creamy sauce was really super. I love lobster, and this is maybe the best way I've ever had it served.
What REALLY surprised me, was that this 5-lb lobster was too much for the 3 of us. I was sad to have leftovers, because I was certain the leftovers would be disappointing. But this leftover butter-poached lobster was the best lunch I have ever taken to work.
Delish. Served with a delightful pinot noir: