Thursday, April 4, 2013
Lobster Meets Poblano
This dish originated in my kitchen over a year ago, but as time has gone by, it has vastly improved. However frying is not one of my favorite things to do, I prefer deep fryers of the professional kitchen. But my original recipe involved baking them with no crust, no contrasting texture, I have to admit after creating the crisp outside on this round, it is just too good to pass up doing the 'frying' from now on.
This past weekend I decided to treat my client; long time friend, and the most wonderful PR girl, Hilary Morris and her husband, Robert to a lobster and shrimp feast. They are really good to me.
Lobster for the most part is thought of as, or was, a luxury item. Nowadays it is found in abundance and often the tails are sold for 4.99 each closer to May thru summer months, and its around $8.99 a tail through winter months (reflects 1 lb tails, the bigger, the price goes up, and this is in our area of NJ). Butter poaching is my preferred method of cooking, but I have found the flavor of the pablano pepper with the shell fish and cream sauce make for a good match.
You will notice the prep is done the night before, so we could relax and have more time to visit. These instructions will follow my path into this recipe. I won't say much more, now lets just dive right into the recipe...
1st Day Prep (shopping list):
3 to 4 lobster tails-
they only come frozen and are thawed to sell, so I buy them frozen.
12 collossal shrimp (as big as you can find, because we know they shrink when cooked, and we want a good match for the lobster on plating.)-
gives about 2-3 per person on final plating, and you need the shells as part of bisque cream prep
1/2 cup farro or rice per person- precook according to directions, but leave al dente for tomorrows prep!
2 cups flour, for making beer batter
1 bottle or can Mexican beer, I use amber Tecate
2 cups heavy cream
6 cups fish stock, or chicken will works
5 small plum tomatoes, small chop
1 lime, juiced
1/3 cup chopped cilantro (can be optional)
1 small onion, small chop- white, yellow, or red, makes no difference
2 cups mixed Mexican cheese, or Monterey Jack cheese, grated
4 to 5 small to med poblano peppers (large if that is your only choice, but it requires adding more lobster or shrimp as filler, along with cheese)
fire grill the peppers- for flavor, and place in plastic bag to steam off skins; skin and cut small slit to remove seeds. pat dry, and place in refrigerator for the next day.
now I am often asked if these peppers are hot, spicy; they can retain some heat because you soften them with seeds and membranes. The Scoville heat scale rates them at 500-2,000, and believe me there are lots more peppers that go way up in the heat range; it is the only way to get them soft enough to skin and to stuff (you need skin removed to take away toughness of pepper, and for the batter to stick, if you batter fry them. You can bake, but no crunch.).
Fish Stock for cilantro cream sauce-
I purchase my shrimp and lobster frozen, and the reason why is...they come in from warmer (shrimp) or cooler waters and are frozen, then are thawed for resale. Let them sit out overnight in a covered bowl in refrigerator. You can thaw them in cold water just before you go to this next step-
rinse shell fish and pat dry; use kitchen scissors to remove shells from lobster (begin down each center on both sides, cutting and stopping just before tail. Reach in and gently remove meat, set aside in glass baking dish, and keep refrigerator.
remove shrimp shells and black veins. in large shrimp, gently tug on vein and it comes right out without cutting like the smaller shrimps. set shells aside with lobster shells. (see seasonings for meat)
Seasonings for lobster and shrimp-
Now you can season the shell fish meat the night before, but add lime juice an hour before stuffing the cleaned pablano peppers.
salt and pepper
generously season lobster and shrimp meat on both sides, and chill overnight in refrigerator.
using half the chopped onions, place in deep pan and saute on medium heat with 2 or so tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter until onions are becoming clear in color; then add, lobster and shrimp shells, stirring until shells begin to turn reddish in color; then add 1 teaspoon garlic power, 1 teaspoon chili powder, and the same of salt and pepper. Stirring, add stock, reduce by 1/3; strain shells, and add 2 chopped tomatoes (maybe half a cup, not sure, I am bad about measuring). Reduce by 1/3. Place in a container without lid and cool down, but add back the lobster tail shells. When cool cover with a tight lid and refrigerate overnight.
After getting prepped ingredients out you will need to add half juiced lime over fresh shell fish meat, let sit for an hour, and this can be done just before you begin dinner, otherwise the juice will over cook the meat (see Ceviche recipes to understand how the acid cooks fish).
Beer batter for poblanos-
1 and half cups flour of choice, I used chappati (Asian Indian whole grain flour, finely ground, and I feel it is healthier)
1 bottle beer of choice (see above)
2 eggs, beaten lightly
In small but deep bowl mix flour and two eggs, then beer. But mix a little beer into this at a time until it is just the right consistency for dipping, more like rolling them in it ( like pancake batter).
Stuffing the peppers-
Preheat oven to 300 degrees to keep stuffed peppers warm while you make cream sauce and heat farro (no longer than 20 mins in oven or lobster will over cook).
I take one lobster meat, cut it into two pieces, but you can place one whole tail inside if it is just for two people. I always make an extra one for our lunch the next day or a really hungry eater. Place some cheese inside first, and then lobster; dip pepper into batter next, and into a hot pan with shallow hot oil; cook until light golden brown on both sides. Place each one on a baking pan until all are done.
Have a second pan ready for cream sauce below, in preheated pan place the other half of chopped onion into pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and saute until translucent; removing lobster tails from stock you will add entire container of stock, the rest of the chopped tomatoes; as it begins to reduce by a third you will begin making cream sauce.
Wipe out oil and bits from the peppers saute pan and cooked seasoned shrimp on medium high. When you turn them over place about 2 cups of stock into pan (from above) with 2 cups of cream and handful of chopped cilantro. Once shrimp has cooked, quickly remove them from pan, placing in bowl, leaving cream sauce to reduce at least by 1/3 (do not overcook shrimps!).
I am sure by now you are thinking, but what about the leftover stock?
By now you have turned off heat under the stock pan, then add partially cooked farro, and turn off heat. Stir and cover. Be mindful of amount of stock verses farro or rice, but if you left it al dente like above instructions you should be fine, the farro should absorb the remaining liquid and stay warm until plating.
Remove stuffed peppers from oven and plate with 1/2 cup farro per person; add sprinkle of cheese, shrimps and cream sauce on top, and next to farro or rice. (lobster and shrimp will overcook, so watch timing of each)
Garnish with lime slice and sprinkle of cilantro. Enjoy!
WINE: I suggest serving a white wine such as a Muscato, which is sweet to balance any heat from pepper. Maybe a Procecco, which can be slightly sweet and bubbly; along with a red if you like, Pinot Noir (Ampelos, CA*), because it is light in tannins due to aging, and usually aged for a mellow flavor alongside the ocean, which would go with seafood, peppers and sides. White wines are available via Trader Joe's, Route 1, West Windsor, and very reasonably price $3.99 for Muscato.
*Ampelos Pinot Noir- Pinot Noir Lambda Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills 750 ML Red USA
2008 $30 per bottle, purchased on location 2012 by my husband on a work trip.