Lobster with Basil Cream
Sweet lobster right out of Cape Cod Bay is glorified by a subtle sauce scented and lightly colored with basil. The presentation is artful without being fussy, and the dish is much easier to eat than is a whole lobster. The lobsters may be cooked up to 4 hours ahead and refrigerated.
- Lobsters - 2 (1 1/2 lb each), live
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Dry White Wine - 3 tablespoons
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1 cup
- Clarified Butter - 3 tablespoons
- Cognac - 2 tablespoons
- Veal Demi-Glace - 1/2 cup (alt. very reduced chicken stock)
- Basil - 1/4 cup, minced fresh
- Haricots Verts - 16 (alt. baby green beans)
- Unsalted Butter - 1 tablespoon
- Spinach - 1-1/2 cups, stemmed
- Basil - 6 large leaves, cut into fine julienne
Fill a stockpot with lightly salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the lobsters head-first, cover the pan, and cook for 5 minutes after the water returns to a boil. Remove the lobsters with tongs and place them in a bowl of ice water to cool. When the lobsters have cooled, remove the meat from the shell, discarding the sand sac just below and behind the eyes and the spongy gills along the body walls. Remove and discard the intestinal vein that runs down the tail. Cut the tail meat crosswise into 4 medallions and reserve the claws. Extract the knuckle and leg meat and set aside separately.
Preheat the oven to 450 F. Place the claws and the tail meat in a buttered baking dish with a sprinkling of salt and pepper and the white wine. Cover the dish with foil or parchment paper and bake for 6 to 8 minutes. Watch carefully to prevent overcooking; the meat should “steam-bake” just until hot.
While the lobster is cooking, place the cream in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring as it comes to a boil to keep it from boiling over. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the cream until it has reduced to 1/4 cup. Set aside and keep warm. Bring another pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
Place a large saute pan or skillet over high heat. Add the clarified butter and the knuckle and leg meat. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the Cognac, stirring up any meat stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cook until the liquid evaporates, then add the demi-glace or reduced stock and the reduced cream. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the minced basil. Cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes, then taste the sauce for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper if necessary. Strain the sauce through a fine-meshed sieve. Set side and keep warm.
Blanch the haricots verts or baby green beans in the pan of boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the beans are bright green and tender. Drain, set aside, and keep warm.
While the beans are cooking, place a medium saute pan or skillet over high heat and melt the butter. Add the spinach, season with salt and pepper, and saute until just wilted, about 1 minute.
To serve: Mound the sauteed spinach in the upper third of 2 plates to form the “body” of the lobster. Arrange the claws on either side of the spinach and place the tail medallions in an overlapping row to form the tail. Arrange the beans sticking out from the spinach body to resemble legs. Pour the lobster sauce around the dish, sprinkle with basil, and serve.