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Monday, November 5, 2012

Think Like A Chef - Roast Lobster

The next roasting recipe in Think Like A Chef is Roast Lobster with Bay Leaf.

The first thing that came into my mind when looking at this recipe was, what shall I serve it with?  If you are from New England, I think the first thing that comes into your mind is corn on the cob and new potatoes.  That would have been a bit easy though, and I wondered if I could somehow combine those two flavors.  I wanted some kind of…hash!  Now, I did not know how to put together this hash, so I cheated and found one on line.  It is a Robert Irvine recipe.  Admittedly, this was kind of a fatty dish, and as I looked at it later, I think I could have cut down the fat in the dish, but more on that later.

The recipe called for a whole large red onion, 2 cloves of garlic chopped, ½ pound of corn, goat cheese, dill, a diced tomato, and a pound of potatoes diced.  I used new potatoes.

Knife skills are getting better!

First, I had to sauté the onion, garlic and corn.  Now, I found a mistake in the recipe, as it called for ¼ cup of oil heated over low heat then sautéing the food.  Well, sauté means high heat with little fat, so I only used 1½ tablespoons of oil.  He calls for grapeseed oil, but I just used canola oil.  In the meantime, after having diced up the potatoes, I salted and peppered them, then coated them in ¼ cup of oil.  I think this was where my mistake was.  I should have started with 1½ tablespoons.  I went with the full ¼ cup as he says the potatoes must be completely covered.  I should have remembered, “You can always add more but you can’t take away.”

Next, I put the potatoes in a roasting pan and covered them with the onion, corn and garlic mixture, and put it in a preheated 375 degree oven.  Simple enough.  

Now onto the lobster.

Try as I might, I could not kill the lobsters by just pulling them apart, or putting a knife through the head, so I boiled them first, for just a minute.  After a minute I pulled them out and ran them under cold water to stop the cooking process.  THEN I pulled them apart.  After pulling them apart, I boiled the tails and the claws for 4 minutes, and the claws for an extra 3 minutes.  One of the interesting things Colicchio suggests is double wrapping the tails in plastic wrap, so the tail will cook in its own juice.  Really cool idea, I think. 

Now, after that was done, I removed the lobster meat, and heated up a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil to medium high.  I put the lobster meat in and cooked it for 30 seconds.  Then I turned the meat over and added in a tablespoon of butter.  (I used the butter/oil product that you already know about.)  Then after 30 seconds, I added another tablespoon of butter/oil, the bay leaf, and turned the heat down to medium low for about three minutes.

While that was going on, I took out the hash, which tasted really good, put it into a bowl, and added goat cheese, tomato and dill and mixed it all up.

Regarding goat cheese, I looked to see if I could substitute something else.  Basically, there are things you can do to yogurt to mimic the texture, but there really isn’t anything you can do to mimic the taste.  In any case, goat cheese does contain less fat, than, say, cheese made from cow’s milk.

I took a small Tupperware – about four inches in diameter - filled it up half way with the hash, pressed it down, and then turned it over onto the plate.

Then I added the lobster tail on top of it, and the claw meat around it.  I have to say, this was the first time I thought about how the food would look on the plate.  I think I did ok, but not great.  But, at least I have started to consider how my food looks on the plate.

As for the taste, the hash was really good.  The potato was soft but not mushy, the same with the corn.  The red onion brought a little bit of crunch to offset the creamy texture that the goat cheese brought to the dish, and the goat cheese was actually not overpowering, although I think it was the primary flavor.  The dill cut the flavor back some.

As for the lobster, well, what does lobster taste like?  Does it really have a taste?  Some people say it tastes like a high quality shrimp but sweeter.  I don’t know if I agree with that.  I guess I would say it does have a certain sweetness to it, maybe something in between a shrimp and a scallop?  Hard to say.  The main thing I was worried about was overcooking the lobster, because if lobster is overcooked, just like calamari, it will have the texture of a rubber band.  Luckily, I timed everything just right.  The texture was nothing like a rubber band.  Perfectly tender…even the tail, which can be tough.  This was the first dish that I had so far, where I actually thought the butter/oil product I use brought a significant amount of flavor to the party.

On to the calories:  Total calories = 558.4.  Total Fat = 28 grams.  I would cut back on the amount of oil used to coat the potatoes by half next time. I think that would help a lot.  I used 3 ½ ounces of goat cheese…I might cut back on that a bit as well.

As for the future, once again work and family will be taking up some weekends, so it will be a bit before I can cook some more.  However, I am now moving on to braising.  Can’t wait to get started.  I hope you will all hang in with me.

Speaking of lobster, you can enjoy Maine Lobster or you can enjoy Rock Lobster!


  1. Very good stuff here----this was definitely your most complex (as far as mixing/marrying flavors and textures), and it sounds like it was a great success---good for you! I'm glad that you are addressing food plating. Arranging food on a plate is also the way a chef would think. The eyes are the gateway to our appetites. A great looking dish is what gets delivered to the table, with smell immediately following....and then of course taste. A well arranged plate is the beginning of a complete dining experience. Do your best to be thoughtful to the arrangement, but no need to overdo it on symmetry. I personally would have leaned the lobster tail up against the hash (rather than put it on top), with the other smaller pieces on the other side of the hash, fanned out. Another quick tip: You used dill in the dish---so why not reserve a couple of the dill fronds for simple plate direction? It's a simple dash of color, and harkens back to an ingredient in the dish. Just a thought. Keep on thinking like a chef---Keep on cooking!

  2. Thanks for the advice, those are all great ideas!

  3. Have been giving this some more thought, because I really like your progress! It's very inspiring and your choices and ideas have been improving with each dish! is a thought....
    You're being more cognizant on accompaniments and side dishes. How about looking into some textural contrasts? For example, in this lobster dish you're working with relatively soft meat and side dish. How about adding some crunch for a contrasting mouth feel? It would not only add crunch, but also another level of flavor. Maybe some chopped (not too fine) walnuts in that hash? Or even a sliver of something crunchy on top of the hash like a crispy piece of sauteed or baked thin prosciutto (please...don't use bacon! It's been done to death and too lowbrow for lobster!)?
    Give it some thought, because you're putting things together nicely! In the Summer, this dish could use a finely diced piece of cucumber for a fresh crunch.
    At any rate, like with art (because cooking IS an art), you benefit from contrasts. It's why you are plating on a white dish: because the food looks better (due to contrast). Use contrasting textures, colors, flavors...and Keep on cooking!