In classic French tradition, golden puffed lobster soufflés arrive at the table nestled in cornucopias made of white linen napkins. Only a fork is needed to eat this lovely soufflé. This recipe seems very long. You are preparing and breaking apart two lobsters, and preparing two sauces before you get to the soufflé. The steps are outlined below in the sequence in which they happen. Read all the way through and you’ll realize that each step is simple to do and follows logically.
- Lobsters - two, 1-1/2 pound
- Olive Oil - 2 tablespoons
- Carrots - 2, chopped
- White Onion - 1, chopped
- Celery - 2 stalks, chopped
- Brandy - 1/4 cup
- Tomatoes - 2, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- Bay Leaves - 2
- Tarragon - 1 sprig
- Thyme - 1 sprig
- Garlic Cloves - 2, crushed
- Tomato Paste - 1 tablespoon
- Peppercorns - 5 whole
- Dry White Wine - 1 cup
- Fish Stock - 1 cup
- Brandy - 2 tablespoons
- Unsalted Butter - 6 tablespoons
- All-Purpose Flour - 3 to 4 tablespoons
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons
- Shallot - 1, minced
- Mushrooms - 2 large, cleaned and cut into 8 pieces
- Brandy - 2 tablespoons
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1/2 cup
- Egg Whites - 2
- Pinch of salt
- Black Truffle - 1, shaved into thin slices and cut into julienne
- Egg Yolk - 1
- Sprig of Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
Lay two large linen napkins on a table. Cut heavy aluminum foil to fit 1/2-inch inside the napkins, and lay a piece of foil on each napkin. Working with one napkin at a time, fold in half of the napkin along one edge, crimping the foil. Using this edge as the opening, roll the other end of the napkin and foil together to form a cone, then twist the narrow end into a tight spiral, creating a cornucopia. Repeat with the other napkin. The foil will hold the napkins in shape. Place the cornucopias in a large platter, opening-to-opening. Lay paper doilies in the open area of each napkin. Set aside for final presentation.
Kill the lobsters by quickly inserting a sharp heavy knife into the cross mark on the head, between the eyes.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil and place a steamer basket in the bottom. Put one lobster in the steamer basket and cover the pot. Steam 10 minutes. Remove from the steamer with tongs and let cool.
Twist the body of the other lobster apart at the tail-body joint and separate the body from the tail. Scoop out any lobster coral and set aside. Remove the claws at the body joint, take out the cartilage, and set aside. Cut the tail in half lengthwise. Remove the tail meat halves, lifting away the black strip. Cut the tail meat into medallions. Remove the legs and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan or skillet. Saute the tail meat halves until just firmed and slightly browned, about 1 minute. Remove from the pan. Add the claws and saute for 2 minutes on each side. Remove and set aside. Add the chopped carrots, onion, and celery to the pan and saute over medium-high heat until softened. Return the lobster tail meat and claws to the pan. Add the brandy, avert your face, and ignite with a large kitchen match. Shake the pan until the flames die down. Add the chopped tomatoes, bay leaves, tarragon, thyme, garlic, tomato paste, and peppercorns. Stir, then add the wine and fish stock. Cover and let this red sauce simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove the claws from the steamed lobster and cut the lobster in half lengthwise. Crack the claws and remove the meat, pulling out the cartilage piece. Set aside; these two pieces of claw meat will become garnishes. Remove the tail meat, discarding the black strip, Cut the tail meat into medallions. Scoop out the remaining material in the body shells. Wash the body-tail shell halves well and sprinkle the inside with brandy. Set aside.
Remove the claws and tail meat from the simmering red sauce. Mash the shells of the legs and put into the developing red sauce. Continue to cook for 10 more minutes. Let the claws cool slightly, then remove the claw meat.
In a small bowl, use a fork to mash the 6 tablespoons of butter with the reserved lobster coral. Mash in 3 to 4 tablespoons of flour to form a stiff paste.
Strain the red sauce into a smaller pan, pressing the shells and vegetables to extract all the juice. Put the strained red sauce back over medium heat and reduce again by one third.
Combine the cooked lobster that was removed from the red sauce, and the tail meat from the steamed lobster, in a small bowl or on a plate. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat and add the shallots. Cook for 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add the lobster meat and cook for 30 seconds. Add the brandy and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour in the cream, stir together, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.
Whisk the lobster coral paste into the reduced red sauce, a little bit at a time, until the sauce is slightly thickened. Season to taste with salt. Set aside; keep warm.
Transfer the lobster meat to a small pan and set aside; keep warm. Add one third of the thickened red sauce to the cream mixture in the pan. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer.
Put the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and begin beating at low speed. When the whites are foamy, add the pinch of salt and increase the speed to high. Beat until the egg whites stand in firm peaks.
Set aside two pieces of truffle for garnish. Stir the remaining truffle julienne into the cream sauce. Put the lobster meat back into the cream sauce.
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Take the red sauce off the heat and stir in the egg yolk. Fold one third of the egg whites into the red sauce. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites in two additions, preserving the volume as much as possible.
Place the lobster shells and reserved claw meat on a baking sheet and place in the preheated oven for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes to warm. Fill the body-tail shells with the lobster meat and cream sauce mixture. Spoon the soufflé mixture over the meat in the shells, sealing it to the edges of the shells. Gently press a piece of reserved claw meat in the top of each puff. Bake for 12 minutes, until golden and set.
To serve: Place the lobster halves at the center of the cornucopias on the platter. Place a truffle slice on each claw. Garnish with Italian parsley.