Roasted Lobster in Vanilla Beurre Blanc Sauce
In a spectacular presentation, Chef Alain Senderens roasts whole lobster, then reassembles the meat and body sections on the plate, adding greens, asparagus, and shellfish. Vanilla beurre blanc sauce is added at the table.
- Courtbouillon - 2 quarts
- Lobsters - 4 live
- Olive Oil - 2 tablespoons
- Vanilla Beurre Blanc Sauce
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons
- Shallots - 5,small, minced
- Champagne - 1-1/4 cup
- White Wine Vinegar - 3 tablespoons
- Vanilla bean - 1, split lengthwise
- Unsalted Butter - 5 ounces (1-1/4 sticks), at room temperature, cut into pieces
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper
- Unsalted Butter - 3 tablespoons
- Fresh Baby Spinach - 1-1/2 pounds, stemmed, or watercress
- Cockles or Mussels - 24
- Shallot - 1, minced
- Dry white wine - 1/2 cup
- Green asparagus tips - 8, blanched
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper
To prepare the lobster: Preheat the oven to 425 F. Heat the courtbouillon to boiling in a large pot over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and put in the lobsters, head-first. Poach 5 minutes. Remove and drain; reserve some courtbouillon to rewarm the asparagus.
With a small hammer or the back of a knife, crack the lobster claws. Place the lobsters in a roasting pan, pour a tablespoon of olive oil over each one, and roast for 15 minutes, until red. Remove from the oven and let cool. When cool enough to handle, twist off the claws and knuckles and remove the meat. Cut off the tail flippers and set aside. With a heavy, sharp knife, cut the lobsters in half lengthwise. Twist the tails from the heads and remove the tail meat. Take out the black strips in the tails. Place the lobsters on a platter, cover with foil, and keep warm.
To prepare the sauce: Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the champagne and vinegar and cook until only 1 teaspoon of liquid is left in the pan. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the mixture and stir to blend. Lower the heat to medium-low. Add one third of the butter pieces and whisk until blended. Continue whisking in the butter, one piece at a time. If the sauce begins to break -- bright yellow streaks of melted butter appear in the sauce -- immediately remove from the heat and whisk in 2 pieces of butter, until the sauce recombines. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside in a warm (not hot) place, or store in a Thermos-type bottle until ready to use.
To prepare the garnish: Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large saute pan or skillet and add the spinach or watercress. Stir until the vegetables have wilted down. Simmer, uncovered, for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper and drain on a towel.
Melt the remaining butter in a large saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook 30 seconds. Add the cockles or mussels and the wine. Cover and cook until the shells open, 5 to 7 minutes. Discard any which do not open. Remove the shells.
To serve: Rewarm the asparagus in lobster courtbouillon. Place two halves of a lobster head and body, back edges touching, at one side of a large plate. Position two tail meat pieces, back edges touching and thick end toward the body pieces, on the other side of the plate. Place the reserved tail flippers between the sections of tail meat. Put a piece of claw meat on either side of the body sections. Mound spinach at the curve of each tail meat piece. Place knuckle meat between the spinach and the tail meat. Put two pieces of asparagus, cut ends together, where the flippers meet the tail. Spoon cockles or mussels in the center, between the tail meat and the body sections. Repeat for each plate. Rewarm the beurre blanc sauce over low heat if necessary, whisking constantly. Put in a sauce boat and spoon over the lobster at the table.