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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Rock Lobster

Smitten Kitchen
Kate went to camp in Maine, and will attend college in Maine starting this fall.  This has engendered a love of lobster in her that sadly, I cannot satiate.  Lobster is expensive, it's a pain in the ass to cook (more on that later), and it just seems a bit too too to serve, or eat for that matter, more than very rarely.

I do not live in new England, where gas stations will sell you freshly steamed lobsters.  In the summer, while it is a tad on the costly side, lobster is easily available everywhere.  I mean, come on.  They served lobster once every summer at Kate's summer camp, and it's not as though she was camping out at a Four Seasons.  She didn't even have electricity for heavens sake.

No one sets lobster traps in the Allegheny River.  As such, here in the 'burgh, lobster is trucked in.  Yes, I can buy lobsters every summer, but do I want to?  No.  They are a pain to cook.  It's not that it's difficult.  Boil the water, throw in the feisty devils, listen to them clank around a a minute or two, and eat.

It's just a lot of hot water in a GIANT pot.  I just don't want to deal with it.  There.  I said it.  I'm lazy and I don't want to deal with cooking lobsters.

So people like me, who might occasionally want to have a little lobster, have to resort to either (1) making a trip to New England (preferable), or (2) buying the lobsters already cooked and ready to eat.

This brings me to the point of all this prelude.  I saw this recipe for lobster salad and it piqued my culinary interest.  How could I pass up a salad that had both lobster and potatoes as key ingredients?  I couldn't.

I did the lazy thing.  I bought the lobster meat already cooked, and in this case, frozen, from my favorite fish market.  Would I serve this particular lobster meat on its own?  No!  But in this salad, it did the job admirably.

Fortunately for me, this does not have to be the end of the lobster for the summer.  We will be delivering Kate to college in Maine in August.  I am sure there will be at least one lobster roll at The Clam Shack and at least one dinner at my favorite lobster pound, Mabel's Lobster Claw to satisfy our yen for fresh from the trap lobster.

Recipe:  Lobster and Potato Salad
Barely tweaked from Ina Garten and Smitten Kitchen)

Serves 6, generously (or easily more if among many sides)


1 1/2 pounds unpeeled small Yukon gold or fingerling potatoes
Coarse, kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons Champagne or white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon minced or pressed garlic
1 large or extra-large egg yolk, ideally at room temperature
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons drained capers
6 scallions, thinly sliced (yielding about 1 cup)
2 medium stalks celery, diced small (about 1/4 inch) (yielding about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat, cooked and cooled, in a 1-inch dice (from about 7 to 8 pounds fresh lobster;
1 lemon
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh tarragon


Cook the potatoes: Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with an inch or two over water. Add 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes, until just tender. (A bamboo skewer is ideal to test them.) Drain in a colander, and let potatoes cool for 5 minutes. Cut potatoes into quarters or halves (or fingerlings into 1/2- to 1-inch segments) and place them in a large bowl.

Make the vinaigrette: Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, garlic, egg yolk, 1 teaspoon salt, and many grinds of black pepper (Ina recommends you use a full teaspoon of pepper). Whisking constantly and vigorously, pour the oil in in a thin drizzle, ideally making an emulsion. Stir in the wine (if using) and capers.

Assemble the salad: While the potatoes are still very warm, pour half the vinaigrette on the potatoes and toss them gently, allowing them to soak up the vinaigrette. Stir in the scallions, celery, red onion, lobster, and add enough vinaigrette to moisten. Reserve any remaining vinaigrette for later. Add the zest and juice of the lemon, the tarragon or parsley, and more salt and pepper to taste (Ina calls for another 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, but this felt like overkill). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow flavors to blend. Taste for seasonings and add more vinaigrette, if necessary.

Serve: This salad is especially good served closer to room temperature. Don’t forget to share.

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