BUTTER-POACHED LOBSTER TAIL

WITH SAUCE FINES HERBES

This is the recipe we’ve talked about recently, from legendary Chef Thomas Keller of the French Laundry in Napa Valley and Per Se in New York. It includes the recipe and technique for “beurre monte” - sinfully rich, but an extraordinary medium for producing a silky, tender lobster tail - producing not at all the same result as would be created by lobster simply cooked in butter. Now this recipe calls for using the tail and claws of whole lobster (and saving the body for other uses or discarding it). It would seem that purchasing lobster tails, rather than whole lobsters, would be easier - but I priced the difference, and purchasing tails would make this insanely expensive, so I left Keller’s recipe as written. I also considered the possibility that the taste might be different, since lobster tails are not tails from this same kind of lobster - they are the meat from spiny lobsters, which are almost entirely “tail.” Keller suggests that a good accompaniment to this lobster would be spinach wilted in a little of the beurre monte.

MAKES 2 SERVINGS
water
2 (1 1/2-pound) lobsters
1/4 cup, cider vinegar
2 cups (4 sticks), butter – cut in chunks
1 teaspoon, minced shallot
1 tablespoon, minced fines herbs: equal parts parsley, chervil, tarragon and chives

Fill large pot with enough water to completely cover lobsters. Add vinegar and bring to a full, rolling boil. Remove from heat and submerge lobsters.

Steep the lobsters in the hot water for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the lobsters from the water, twist to remove the knuckles and claws and return these to the hot water.

Separate the tails from the body of each lobster (reserve the body for stock or discard). Cut through the cartilage on the underside the of lobster tail, pull it apart and pull out the tail meat in 1 piece. Cut the tail in half lengthwise; remove the vein and trim any loose strands.

Remove the claws from the hot water, and remove the claw meat intact by wiggling off the small lower claw, to which a piece of cartilage is attached (be sure to remove this cartilage if it separates) and by cracking the fat claw near its base to open and remove the meat without damaging it. Remove the knuckle meat and reserve for another use (it’s great sautéed quickly in butter for a snack).

Place all of the lobster meat on a paper-towel-lined plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. (Allow lobster meat to sit at room temperature 1 hour before cooking if chilled.)

To Make the Beurre Monte: Bring 2 tablespoons of water to a simmer in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time, reducing heat to low and being VERY careful not to boil the butter. [Cook’s Note: the beurre monte can be made in advance and held, covered tightly with a lid or plastic wrap, in a warm place. It will keep for hours until you are ready to use it.]

Submerge the lobster tail and claw meat in the beurre monte and poach it over low heat until heated through, 5 to 6 minutes. (Optimum temperature of beurre monte is between 180 and 190 degrees.)

While lobster poaches, sauté shallot in 1 teaspoon of the beurre monte over medium heat, 2 to 3 minutes.

To Make the Sauce:When the lobster is cooked, remove the lobster meat from the beurre monte and it on a warm plate. Add 1 cup of the poaching beurre monte to the shallots, then add the fines herbs. Heat over medium heat until beurre monte is hot but not boiling.

To Serve:Place 1 claw on top each half lobster tail and serve with sauce in warm dish. (You’ll use about 1 cup. Leftover lobster infused butter can be refrigerated, clarified or not, and reused for sautéing.)

Cook’s Note: Leftover lobster-infused beurre monte can be kept refrigerated and re-used for sautéing – OR it can be clarified to be used for any kind of frying.