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~Jamaican-Style Butter-Poached Lobsta Rasta Pasta~

IMG_7805Generally speaking, I am not a big fan of serving cheese or cheese sauces with fish or seafood, but, there are exceptions to every rule, so, for those who, like myself, do appreciate the divine goodness of dishes like lobster macaroni and cheese, you've gotta try my creamy-dreamy Island-Style Jamaican-Italian-American Rasta Pasta with succulent, butter-poached lobster meat added to it.  In the event you've never heard of rasta pasta, take a moment and read on:     

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3a53cc4200dRasta Pasta is a restaurant located in Colorado Springs, CO.  The owners, the Taraborelli family, specialize in fusing two of the unlikeliest of culinary bedfellows:  the island flavors of Jamaica with their Italian-American background.  It's easy to assume the title "rasta" is associated with Rastafarianism, which would require the fare to be vegetarian -- no meat or shellfish.  No mon.  It implies the colors of the veggies:  red, yellow and green.

Research revealed a full range of opinions regarding the origin of this dish (which has developed a cult following), as Caribbean restaurants across the USA, many them in New York City (which has a large Jamaican population), have a version of rasta pasta on their menu.  All left me completely up-in-the-air on the subject and unwilling to pass any along.  My best guess:  It is a savvy Jamaican-American cook's creation that got popularized in America, then made its way back to Jamaica, where it quickly became as popular as it is here.  All I can say with certainty:  It's a delicious twist on your typical creamy pasta dish, and, it appealed to me from the start.

Island-Style Jamaican-Italian-American Rasta Pasta...

IMG_6201Jamaican Rasta Pasta, which is almost always made using penne, is very resemblant of one of my favorite entrées in an Italian-American restaurant, Fettucchini Alfredo, which I always order primavera-style, meaning:  some vegetables get tossed into it, hence the name of my own recipe, Fabulous Fettuccine Alfredo a la Primavera-Style -- and,  it's always an option to have chicken or shrimp tossed in too.  The  Rasta Pasta Sauce itself, is also resemblant of the rich, creamy, parmesan-laced sauce that enrobes the tender strands of al dente egg-pasta and colorful crunch-tender blanched veggies, and, when ordering rasta pasta anywhere, it's Jamaican-jerk chicken or jerk shrimp options you'll find.

... plus elegant & exquisite butter-poached lobster tail meat... 

6a0120a8551282970b017d3f5c9cff970cBoiling or steaming lobster might be the traditional methods for cooking lobster, but, a third method, my preferred method for tails, is butter poaching.  It's decadent, divine and sublime.  Butter poaching is done by removing the meat from lobster tails and ever-so-gently cooking them in seasoned or unseasoned melted butter without allowing the meat to simmer or boil (which toughens the meat).  There's more, it's easy to do and it only takes a few minutes.

... is a decadent, divine & sublime, relatively-easy entrée:

Butter-poaching lobster tails for rasta pasta is no different than butter-poaching tails in my above-mentioned French-style version, except, instead of using traditional French seasonings (lemon juice, tarragon, onion and red pepper flakes), I use classic Jamaican flavorings (jerk seasoning, thyme, Scotch bonnet pepper powder and lime juice).  As for the rasta pasta sauce and vegetable sauté, the recipes are both quick to make, but, note they each yield 6 cups -- twice as much as needed for 1 pound of any type pasta, so, do the math and kindly cut the recipes in half.

IMG_77403  cups rasta pasta sauce, prepared according to my recipe, but do the math, cut the recipe in half

3  cups rasta pasta vegetable sauté, prepared according to my recipe, but do the math, cut the recipe in half

2  1 1/4-1 1/2-pound lobster tails, 3 1/2-4 1/2 generous cups chopped lobster meat

1  pound medium pasta shells, cooked al denté, according to package directions

1  teaspoon sea salt, for adding to water for pasta

1  cup salted butter (2 sticks)

1/4  cup white wine

1  teaspoon lime juice

1  teaspoon jerk seasoning blend, your favorite brand

1/2  teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/2  teaspoon garlic powder

1/16  teaspoon Scotch bonnet pepper powder

IMG_7759 IMG_7759 IMG_7759 IMG_7759~Step 1.  To prep  lobster meat, use a pair of kitchen shears to clip both sides of the underbelly of both tails and remove the thin shells.  Using your fingertips, gently remove the tails from the outer shells.  Chop tails into bite-sized pieces, about 1/2"-3/4" (3 1/2-4 1/2 cups lobster meat).

IMG_7742 IMG_7742 IMG_7742 IMG_7785 IMG_7785~Step 2.  In a 4-quart stockpot or saucepan bring 3 quarts water to a rolling boil and add 1 teaspoon sea salt.  Add the pasta shells, adjust heat to simmer steadily and continue to cook, until al dente, about 8-9 minutes. Do not overcook the pasta.  Transfer pasta to a colander to drain thoroughly, then, toss it into the skillet containing the vegetable sauté.

IMG_7747 IMG_7747 IMG_7747 IMG_7747 IMG_7770 IMG_7770 IMG_7770 IMG_7770 IMG_7770~Step 3.  To prepare the butter sauce and poach the lobster, in a 1-cup measuring container, stir the lime juice, jerk seasoning, dried thyme, garlic powder and Scotch bonnet pepper powder into the wine.  Place the butter in a 2-quart saucier.  Add the wine mixture.  Over extra-low heat, melt butter into wine, stirring frequently, until steaming.  Add the lobster pieces and stir constantly, adjusting the heat, lowering if necessary, until lobster is opaque and just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.  Do not simmer or boil.  Do not over-poach lobster tails.  

IMG_7789 IMG_7789~ Step 4.  Using a large slotted spoon, transfer the lobster pieces to the pasta/vegetable mixture in skillet.  Add rasta pasta sauce, in 2-3 increments, tossing after each addition, until all ingredients are nicely-coated (not drenched) in the cream sauce.  

Note:  There will be almost a cup of flavorful butter sauce left in the saucier.  I like to serve the remaining butter sauce to the side with toasted rustic bread slices or garlic bread for dipping.

Stressed?  Don't worry, be happy.  Eat lobsta rasta pasta:

IMG_7797 2It's fantastic made w/lobster or seafood ravioli too:

IMG_7622Jamaican Rasta Pasta w/Butter-Poached Lobster:  Recipe yields 4-6 rich, hearty main-dish servings.

Special Equipment List: kitchen shears; cutting board; chef's knife; 4-quart saucepan; colander; 1-cup measuring container; 2-quart saucier; large slotted spoon; 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight deep sides (for preparing rasta pasta sauce); 12" nonstick skillet (for preparing vegetable sauté)

IMG_7778Cook's Note: Store-bought seafood stock is readily available, but I can tell you this:  it is a compromise and I never feel my end result is quite as good as it could have been if I'd used my real-deal stock.  Besides, one of the fundamentals of good cooking is to waste nothing, or as little as possible, so this gives me an opportunity to feel good about myself.  All my shrimp and lobster shells go in a freezer bag.  'Nuff said.  ~ Save Those Lobster Shells!!!  Because I Said So!!! ~

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)


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