Lobster Américaine with Asparagus and Tomatoes
The tomato-wine sauce for this light lobster dish, adapted from French chef Michel Guerard’s diet-based cookbook, Cuisine Minceur (William Morrow, 1986), gets depth of flavor from the addition of the lobster’s tomalley. This recipe first appeared in the iPad edition of our August/September 2013 Heartland issue with Gael Greene’s article Golden Days.
FOR THE VEGETABLES:
- 1 1⁄4 cups fish stock or water
- 8 green peppercorns
- 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled and smashed
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 6 pencil-thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3″ lengths with the tips left on
- 5 yellow or red grape tomatoes
- Chervil leaves, for garnish
FOR THE LOBSTER AND SAUCE:
- 1 live lobster (about 2 lb.)
- 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. peanut oil
- 2 small shallots, minced
- 1 carrot, cut into ¼” dice
- 1 stalk celery, cut into ¼” dice
- 1⁄2 medium yellow onion, cut into ¼” dice
- 1 clove garlic, unpeeled, crushed
- 2 stems parsley
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 tbsp. Armagnac or cognac
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1⁄4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 3 ripe roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into ¼” dice
- 1 tsp. flour
- Make the vegetables: Bring stock, peppercorns, garlic, and salt to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan. Add asparagus; cook until bright green and tender, 1-2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer asparagus to a bowl of ice water; set aside. Using a sharp paring knife, slice a shallow “X” in the bottom of each tomato; add to pan and cook until skins start to shrink away from tomatoes, 30-60 seconds. Transfer tomatoes to ice water. Strain stock, discarding peppercorns and garlic, and set aside. Drain vegetables and peel tomatoes; set aside.
- Make the lobster: Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil. Cook lobster until shell is bright red, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, transfer lobster to a bowl of ice water; let cool slightly. Using a heavy knife, remove and crack lobster claws. Cut tail at the point where it joins the body and remove the tail meat. Cut tail meat crosswise into ½” slices. Split remaining body and head in half, and using a spoon, transfer the green tomalley to a bowl; set aside.
- Make the sauce: Heat 1 tbsp. butter and the oils in a 12″ high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots, carrot, celery, onion, and garlic. Tie parsley, thyme, and bay leaf with a piece of butcher’s string and add to pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, 3-4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer vegetables and herbs to a bowl; set aside.
- Season lobster shells and meat with salt and pepper and add to pan. Cook, turning as needed, until meat is opaque, 2 minutes. Add Armagnac and cover pan. Cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add reserved stock and herbs, plus wine, tomato paste, cayenne, tomatoes, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil. Cover and cook until lobster is tender, 8-10 minutes. Uncover and using tongs, transfer lobster shells and meat to a plate; set aside.
- Continue to simmer sauce until reduced to ½ cup, 6-8 minutes. Strain sauce, discarding herbs, into a clean 1-qt. saucepan;bring to a simmer. Using a fork, mash together lobster tomalley, remaining butter, and the flour in a bowl until smooth. Add mixture to the simmering sauce; cook, whisking constantly, until sauce is thickened and smooth, 1-2 minutes more.
- To serve: Remove lobster claw meat from shells; discard shells. Spoon about 3 tbsp. sauce over the bottom of one side of a large serving plate. Spoon remaining sauce into lobster tail shell and arrange tail meat over sauce. Rejoin lobster head to tail as if whole and arrange claw meat over the top. On the other side of plate, spread reserved vegetables from sauce and top with asparagus. Arrange peeled tomatoes and chervil leaves around plate.