This recipe is epic. It’s as good as you can get outside a very nice restaurant - it might even be better than many. Basically, it’s lobster meat ravioli. Sometimes, rather than making actual ravioli, I’ll simply fold the filling into a sheet of pasta (a lasagna noodle, for example). This is the recipe I’ll put here.
Step One: Cook the lobster
This is really easy. Get a big pot, say 12 quarts or so. Fill it 2/3 full of water. Bring it to a roiling boil. Insert lobster. Cook it until you see the lobster’s innards seeping out and congealing. Take the lobster out and plunk it into some cool water, both to stop the cooking, and to make it easy to handle. I used 3 lobsters, each about 1-1.25 pounds. In my opinion, it’s better to use several smaller lobsters for this recipe, than to use one large one. And, make sure that the lobsters are not just alive, but active when you pick them.
Step Two: Lobster Stock
Lobster stock is one of those things that you’ll occasionally see in a recipe, and there is simply no way to substitute for it. None. Don’t make the recipe if you don’t have lobster stock. After this, however, you’ll have an amazing lobster stock.
Keep that water, which you used to cook the lobsters earlier, boiling. Over a bowl, break off the cooked lobster claws, at the joint attaching to the body and set them aside (that’s the meat you want). Break off the tail where it joins the body, put that with the claws. Put everything else back in the boiling water - including the juice that came out as you were breaking parts off the lobster (remember you did this over a bowl?).
Now remove the meat from the lobster tails and claw arms, setting it aside. Keep all the shell bits, and any liquids which come out, and then add them to the boiling water. This will make a mess. Wear an apron.
Once all the lobster parts (but not the meat you took out) are in the boiling pot, take a minute and clean your workspace. Then add:
- 2 medium-sized lemons, washed and sliced into rounds
- 1 medium-sized bulb of fresh fennel (do not use seeds) cut into 1/2-inch pieces (it looks like celery a bit)
- 1.5-2 cups roughly chopped (1/2-inch pieces) carrots
- 1.5-2 cups roughly (1/2-inch pieces) chopped celery
- 1 medium sized onion, roughly (1-inch pieces) chopped
- 4 or 5 bay leaves (fresh is best - you can buy a bunch and store them in the freezer for a while)
- 1 bouquet garni (two 4-inch pieces of celery tied together with 1 trig of rosemary, 3 twigs of thyme, and 3 twigs of tarragon)
- 2 Tbsp of cracked pepper (I use a 4-pepper blend from Savory Spices, and then mash it in a mortar to break most of the corns, but without turning it into powder)
- 2 Tbsp (or to taste) salt
- .5g Saffron (I used Savory’s Persian Saffron, and really like it, but Spanish is good too)
- 1 Tbsp Cayenne pepper
Boil this hard for about 10 minutes after you add everything, and then lower the heat and keep it on a slow boil for a long time. It’ll start smelling of the fennel, which is not immediately the best smell, but it’ll come together, I promise. I cooked this stock for about 6 hours, adding hot water to maintain the volume a couple times. Don’t let it get to less than 80% the original volume.
Finally, you’ll need another, similar sized container. Use a fine strainer and filter out all the lobster and vegetable parts by pouring the stock into other container(s). Rinse out the original pot and pour the strained stock back into the pot. Keep it warm.
Step Three: Ravioli Stuffing
Chop the reserved lobster meat into 1/4-inch chunks, or so. Melt a few tablespoons of butter in a large sauté pan. Sauté the lobster meat for a few minutes - you are flavoring the butter as much as cooking the lobster here. Remove and set the lobster meat aside.
Using the lobster-flavored butter, sauté all of a 10 oz package of fresh baby spinach. It won’t fit into the pan to start, but I’m always amazed at how much spinach you have to suaté to have a nice sized side dish.
Once the spinach is cooked, chop it up, and add it to the lobster.
Finely chop or shred some ricotta salata cheese into the mixture of lobster and spinach. I used 3 lobsters, and ended up with about a pound of meat, I added the 10 oz of spinach, and a light-pound of cheese. I like ricotta salata. It’s a harder, pressed variant of the cheese with a nice mouth-feel. If you can’t find it, or want to use regular ricotta, your measurements may need to change.
Step Four: Pasta Sauce
Start with 1 finely diced shallot and a couple sliced cloves of garlic. Sauté these in 3-4 Tbsp of butter. Add about 4 Tbsp flour to the sauté, and make a roux. Brown that for a few minutes.
Increase the heat, and slowly, while stirring the roux, add about 12 oz of lobster stock. Continue stirring until the sauce begins to thicken. Then slowly add another 12 oz of the stock, and stir until it begins to thicken. You want the sauce to be thick enough to coat the pasta - think bottled alfredo sauce - it may be important to add another couple Tbsp of flour, or a few ounces of stock at this point.
Add a big spoonful (2-4 Tbsp or so) of tomato paste to the sauce, and wisk it un until it is well distributed. Add some dried italian seasoning here. Reduce the heat to a slow boil.
Add 6-8 oz heavy table cream to the sauce. Stir and maintain the sauce’s consistency. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add 2 oz cognac to the sauce. Stir until well integrated. Allow to boil for 30 seconds or so. Reduce heat to warm.
Step Five: Plate the ravioli and enjoy.
Place a cooked lasagna noodle on a plate. Put some ravioli stuffing (the lobster, cheese, and spinach mixture) on the noodle, and fold over the stuffing. Cover the noodle and stuffing with sauce. Garnish with some pecorino romano cheese, and green onion.
Last night, dinner was a tasty homemade pasta puttanesca. A few people, after seeing my photo on instagram, asked for the recipe. So here goes.
What you’ll need:
- 10-12 moderately sized, ripe Roma tomatoes (my Dad grew mine)
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 2 Tbsp diced (haphazardly) shallots
- 1 small yellow onion, coursely chopped
- 2 Tbsp basil leaves (I grew mine, and like if cut as a chiffonade)
- 1 Tbsp oregano leaves coursely chopped
- 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
- 8 oz dried porchini mushrooms, rehydrated in Sauvignon Blanc, and coursely chopped
- 500 ml Sauvignon Blanc
- 250 ml Nero D’avola (or other dry red wine)
How to make this:
- Skin, and coursely chop the tomatoes. With a sharp knife score the bottoms of the tomatoes. Boil some water. Put the tomatoes in the boiling water until their skins start pealing off. Remove the tomatoes, and immerse in cold water. Peel off the skins. Chop the tomatoes, and save the juice.
- Sauté the garlic, shallots, oregano, basil in a bit of olive oil until the onion is tender, but don’t carmelize anything, and don’t let the garlic burn.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, and turn the heat up to high. Sauté for a couple minutes.
- Add about half the Sauvignon Blanc, and some water to the pan. Doesn’t really matter how much water - the important thing is to vigorously boil and macerate the tomatoes. I added about a pint.
- While boiling the water & tomatoes mixture, use a spatula and mash the tomato pieces a bit
- After the liquid reduced and almost gone, add the olives and mushrooms.
- Add the rest of the wine, and some more water.
- Reduce the liquid until it’s mostly gone, and dragging a spatula across the pan reveals the bottom of the pan for a few seconds, before the liquid moves back in.
- Lower heat to warm until ready to eat.
The goal here is to have a little bit of liquid, but not so much that the sauce is runny. It’s better if there is no liquid than if there is too much.
Boil your favourite pasta and enjoy.
- if you want to let this cook for a while, or if you misjudge how long the rest of your meal takes, just keep adding water to the pan, as the pan gets close to dry. As long as you’re boliing the liquid off, this shouldn’t affect your results. I can make this in as little as about 30 minutes, or as long as 4 hours.
- You can skin the tomatoes well in advance.
- A pinch of salt in your pasta water is useless. Put in a big handful. You’ll taste the difference, and thank me for telling you that.
- Make sure to give the dried mushrooms ample rehydration time. They require at least an hour, but are better if they are given 4-5 hours.