In a few short hours we will say, "good-bye 2012", and, "welcome 2013". New Year's Eve is indeed a good-spirited holiday, but, because it arrives on the heels of the Christmas frenzy, Joe and I prefer not to go out on the town to celebrate. Occasionally we invite a few friends to quietly ring in the New Year with us, but, mostly it's just the two of us (and three poodles). We do, however, always put some forethought and planning into a dinner worthy of a bottle of bubbly. Two days ago, when Joe came home with some lobster tails, I knew immediately what dinner I would serve this year: butter-poached lobster tails (with a lemon and corn orzotto)!
On Saturday, I posted my recipe for ~ Creamy Lemon-Tarragon & Shaved-Corn Orzotto ~. Just click on the Related Article link below to get the recipe. I think it to be a perfect accompaniment to all sorts of fish and shellfish. It does, however, contain Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, which, can be a "hot topic" if you are amongst the foodies that believe fish and cheese are NEVER to be served together!
For the most part, I am a card-carrying member of the "no cheese with fish commission", but, in the case of this meal, the cheese isn't going on the lobster, it is being served, in an understated way, in the accompanying side-dish. This is a marriage made in heaven. I prepare my orzotto, from start to finish, about 1/2 hour prior to butter-poaching my lobster meat!
A bit about me and butter-poached lobster:
Back in January of 2005, on pages 72 and 73 of Bon Appetit Magazine, Chef Eric Rupert's (Le Bernardin) version of Thomas Keller's (The French Laundry) recipe for "Butter-Poached Lobster with Tarragon and Champagne" was featured. It was named as the "Hot Dish of the Year" for 2004. On January 4, 2005, Joe and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with me cooking Chef Rupert's recipe. The premise of the dish is: to parboil two whole live lobsters in a flavorful broth, slice the meat and finish it off by poaching it in melted butter ("lobster's natural soul mate"). This recipe is very refined. This recipe is superb. This recipe is also a lot of work (in a very, very, very good way)!
Because whole lobster is not high on my list of things to eat (even when someone else is cooking it), the very next time I prepared this dish I substituted what I consider to be the most perfectly-portioned-by-nature seafood known to mankind: lobster tail. Once I switched from whole, live lobsters to tails, I quickly realized there was no need to parboil the lobster tails in the broth. I just poached my chopped lobster meat in my favorite, rustic-style, flavored butter...
Tarragon, Sweet Onion, Red Pepper & Champagne Butter!
1 1/2 pounds salted butter
1 pound finely-diced yellow or sweet onion
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
6, 6"-8" fresh tarragon sprigs, for flavoring the butter
1/2 cup champagne or white wine
6, 6"-8" fresh tarragon sprigs, for garnishing the finished dish
~ Step 1. Prep the onion as directed. In a 3 1/2-quart chef's pan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the onions, followed by the garlic powder, red pepper flakes, white pepper, lemon juice and champagne.
~ Step 2. Adjust heat to a gentle, steady simmer and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very soft and translucent, about 6-8 minutes.
6, 10-12-ounce lobster tails (thawed if frozen).
Using your fingertips, remove and discard the spiny "cut out" bottoms. Using your fingertips, remove the meat from the shells, in one large piece, keeping the shells intact.
Note: The lobster can be prepped to this point one day in advance of cooking and serving. Place shells and meat on two separate plates, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Remove both from refrigerator about 1 hour prior to poaching.
~ Step 6. Just prior to poaching the lobster meat, place the empty lobster shells in a 4-quart stockpot. Add cold water until the pot is about half full. Bring to a boil, adjust heat to simmer, and cook for 1 minute.
Remove from heat.
Set aside, while you poach the lobster meat according to the following directions:
~ Step 9. Continue to poach the lobster, adjusting the heat to keep the butter steaming but not simmering or boiling, until the lobster is opaque in color and just cooked through, about 6-8 minutes.
Place/arrange an empty lobster shell on top of the orzotto on each plate. Using a slotted spoon, fill each lobster shell "to the max" with butter-poached lobster meat. Using a small ladle, drizzle the flavored butter over everything! Serve:
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; 3 1/3-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides & lid; kitchen shears; 4-quart stockpot; tongs; paper towels; large slotted spoon; small ladle
Cook's Note: In case you're ever looking for a decadent appetizer with a similar flavor: Try my Tarragon, Sweet Onion & Red Pepper Butter on ~ Melanie's Wine-Steamed Clams ~. You can find the recipe in Categories 1, 8 or 14!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary & Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)