Daily Archives: March 9, 2011

Phat Tuesday Lobster Dinner

Phat Tuesday Lobster Dinner

I’ve never read anywhere that a fish dinner during the Mardi Gras / Lenten season couldn’t mean LOBSTER.  I mean, wasn’t lobster formerly the poor man’s dish?

Personally, I am not a Christian.  But I was raised in a very Catholic family and still have respect for the faith and, particularly, the period of mindfulness that comes with the 40 days before the celebration of Easter.  And the gluttony that’s inevitable on the eve of those 40 days.

And I like fish.  Acoreans are fishing people.  We know how to cook it up.

In truth, it was my father who requested this dinner last week.  I was fed lobster for my first birthday in a summer celebration that would quickly become tradition in my family, and my father’s stuffed lobster dinner became a meal I naturally inherited and serve for birthdays and such special occasions.  Dad was away for his birthday this year, so tonight was a bit of a post-birthday celebration.

If we were enjoying the summer months I’d serve this with boiled corn on the cob and a salad.  But as it’s still frigid in my hometown in Connecticut, I opted for recent favorites Ralph Macchio Dancing Potatoes and, for a little healthy green, Kamui Den Cold Aparagus Salad.  Along with too much red wine and a bit of Portuguese corn bread.

Now, like many European cultures, the Portuguese are loose with the amount of their “ingredients”.  They don’t measure their amounts and are skilled at utilizing what’s on hand. And there’s a pride in knowing that your particular recipe is yours.  And that means it’s yours every time too – as changeable as what’s in your cupboard or what looks best in season.

I often use beer or white wine in this recipe; because I wanted it completely gluten-free and wanted to feature fresh lemon I used neither.  Sometimes I include diced onion; tonight I didn’t have any.  I completely forgot that fresh parsley makes it sing.  I ran out of regular gluten-free bread that I had toasted and dried so I threw in some soft gluten-free corn bread that my dad brought me from Fall River (a mecca for Portuguese on the east coast of the U.S.).   I’ve made this recipe two dozen times – always differently.

Tonight, my sister remarked that she liked it better than my dad’s.  I take that as a compliment, for this night only, knowing that the recipe, like the seasons and the people who make it, is different every time.

Note: The ingredients are listed PER PERSON.  I suggest using these amounts as guidelines and estimating and being creative to taste.

Ingredients PER PERSON

  • 1 lobster between 1.25 – 1.5 pound
  • 1/2 can lump crab meat, with water/juice
  • 1 large piece of bread of choice per person – I’ve used anything from regular sliced gluten-free bread to classic Italian or French bread.  Either way, toast it well and allow it to cool completely before mixing.
  • 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice plus one thick slice lemon
  • 1/2 Tbsp hot sauce or salsa, heat depending on company.  I used a Portuguese red pepper exclusive to where we get it in Fall River.  Any good simple hot salsa works well, or Frank’s Red Hot to taste.
  • 2 Tbsp butter, separated, melted
  • white wine or beer to moisten – optional
  • 2Tbsp fresh chopped parsley – optional
  • Other options: minced garlic, minced parsley, sauteed celery, small scallops, lemon zest, lemon or orange rind.

Directions

Lobster Massacre

This is always the hardest part, for me anyway.  I used to slice my way easily through and not bat an eye.  But the older and more yogic I get, the more difficult it becomes.  To the point that I had my father do it for me tonight.  And my boyfriend suggested I watch Annie Hall before.  Both very useful.

My recommendation for killing live lobsters for stuffing, though, is to use a sharp knife and dive in.  Using bare hands or an oven mitt (making sure that their claws are safe with rubber bands – I made that mistake once!), hold the main body back side / tail down and slice sharply from the head to the middle of the body between the rows of legs.  Doing so is the fastest way to kill them.  Don’t be alarmed if they twitch for a while after – this is purely muscular.  Set aside on a cutting board while you prepare the stuffing and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Stuffing

In a large bowl, dump in crab meat.  Tear toasted bread with your fingers into a combination of small pieces and crumbs.  Add 1 Tbsp melted butter (per person), lemon, hot sauce, parsley, and enough beer or wine to make moist.  I actually had no problem tonight not adding any extra liquid, but would have thrown in a splash of the red wine we were drinking if needed.  VERY adaptable recipe.

Not for vegans.

Gut the lobsters.  I actually find this part easier than the killing.  Basically, you want to clean out any soft matter from the insides.  I usually run the knife down from the head to the tail so that I’ve split the lobster length-wise, leaving the main shell intact.  This way I can easily crack the middle cavity open and take out the digestive and reproductive tracts, which are basically all lobsters have.  If it’s gooey, remove it.  And maybe say a prayer of thanks for the little guy who’s about to nourish you deliciously.

Fill em and line em up

Distribute stuffing equally amongst lobsters, packing tightly into empty body cavity. Melt remaining butter and mix with a small additional amount of hot sauce if desired.  Carefully pour equally into the crack you’ve made in the tail and onto the top of the stuffing.  Cover with one slice of lemon.

Cover with tin foil and bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until lobsters are almost bright red.  Uncover and turn up to broil.  Broil for 5 minutes.

Vibrant bright red lobster

Remove from heat, allow to stand a few minutes and serve!  There’s a good amount of butter in the recipe and good lobsters don’t need the addition of melted butter with serving.  But a nice option would be to infuse some fresh herbs into melted butter.  I served this with asparagus salad, roasted potatoes and fresh melon.

SO yummy!

Happy Phat Tuesday!


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Ralph Macchio Dancing Potatoes (Perfect Roasted Potatoes)

Ralph Macchio Dancing Potatoes

Disclaimer:  I do not, actually, have a crush on my boyfriend’s friend, who we’ll call Ralph Macchio.  The real Ralph Macchio is on my mind because I want him to win the crap out of Dancing With the Stars next season – though I’ve never seen an episode.  But really.  The Karate Kid?! My Cousin Vinny?  Heck, he was even adorable on Ugly Betty!  Let’s go Macchio!

Anyway, the pseudo Ralph Macchio has excellent taste in colorful shirts.  And despite my incredible desire to be lazy on Sunday we enjoyed 90 minutes of YogaX together, where I melted into several Warrior series and cursed the phrase “Yoga Belly” before we went out in the rain for sake and sushi. Ralph can cook, and (possibly to appease my desire to have a partner in the kitchen) my boyfriend put us together a few weeks ago when he was visiting to make brunch for some friends.  And in single moment of delicious, crisp, buttery potato perfection, Ralph reminded me of the state of bliss potatoes reach when you’ve taken the time to par-boil them properly before roasting.

So I made them tonight to go along with Phat Tuesday dinner after a long day.  And my little sis wanted the recipe.  And so I reminded her that I have a blog for that purpose.  Then she remarked that my holiday header is gone… showing that she hasn’t actually been on this site since Christmas.

Family is awesome! Truly.  It was a delightful night of food and conversation, and sinfully crispy potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Yukon Gold or white potatoes per person
  • scarily delicious olive oil
  • freshly cracked sea salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • your combination of any of the following: garlic powder, onion powder, crushed red pepper flakes, dried basil, dried oregano, white pepper, dried lemon etc.

Directions

  • Peel and cut your potatoes into wedges about 1 – 1 1/2 inches big.  While doing so, place a large pot of water on to boil with a good amount of salt (I used about a tablespoon) and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • When the water is at a good boil, drop potatoes in and cook about 5 minutes, until a fork just pierces into them but they’re still very firm.  Immediately strain and allow all water to fall off.
  • Coat a medium baking dish (I used a classic Pyrex glass dish) with about 3 Tbsp Olive Oil (one that rocks your world) and toss potatoes in to coat.
  • Add freshly cracked salt, pepper and seasonings to taste.  If you’re not sure what to try, I recommend grabbing a premixed spice blend – they’re easily available now and usually mixed pretty classic-ly.
  • Roast in preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes, tossing occasionally.
  • Turn heat up to a broil and broil for 5-8 minutes until golden.

Eat the crap out of them.

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