Holiday Entertaining 2002

See Also
Main Courses: Seafood
  Lobster à l'Américaine

The Chef
Didier Virot of Aix

Serves 6

3 2-to-2 and 1/2-pound lobsters
3/4 cup olive oil
2 large carrots, finely diced
4 shallots, sliced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup cognac
12 plum tomatoes, quartered, skin on
10 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
1 cup Chardonnay (or other white wine)
2 large sprigs rosemary
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, stems reserved
1/4 cup roughly chopped tarragon, stems reserved
Cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lemon, juiced

Cooking Instructions
Blanch the lobsters in a large pot of boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove them, break off the legs and claws, and shock the lobster bodies in ice-cold water. Return the legs and claws to the boiling water for a further 2 minutes, then shock in ice-cold water. Clean the meat from the shells, holding the lobsters over a large platter to catch their juices. Separate the dark green or black coral from the meat and reserve. Cut the tail meat in half lengthwise, and chop the shells into big chunks.

Heat 1/2 cup oil in a large thick-bottomed pot, then add the lobster shells and sauté until they turn red. Stir in the carrots, shallots, celery, and tomato paste, cover, and allow them to sweat over low heat for about 10 minutes. Add the cognac, cover again, and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes. Blend the tomatoes with the wine in a food processor and add to the lobster shells, along with the reserved lobster juice, garlic, rosemary, parsley stems, and 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon and stems. Season with salt and a pinch of cayenne, and cover again. Simmer very slowly for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Strain the sauce through a colander, pressing down on the shells and vegetables to extract all the liquid, and discard the solids. Add this sauce to a food processor along with the coral, and blend together. Return to a saucepan and heat gently, but do not boil or it will separate. (If the lobster does not have coral, the sauce can be boiled.) When the consistency of the sauce is medium-thick, add lemon juice, 11/2 tablespoons parsley, and remaining tarragon, and taste for seasoning.

Season the lobster meat with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining oil in a sauté pan over high heat, add the lobster meat, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until it turns a slightly deeper red. Reduce the heat and cook for 1 minute further. Serve the lobster with the sauce, sprinkled with remaining parsley, and with basmati rice on the side.

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