lobster farewell

The astute reader may well note that, among these pages, lobster might seem to appear inordinately more frequent than other, perhaps more common entrées. The reason for this is that it is always reserved for special occasions. Since it is expensive and I am of Scotch-Irish descent, born in the Great Depression of the twentieth century, I am not prone to spring for enough lobster to feed more than a small gathering, viz. just the two of us.

The special occasion, in this case, was New Year’s Eve 2010, and hence the name—a farewell to the year passing from us.

Curiously enough, its preparation began with two sauces left over from previous dinners that had been tucked away in my freezer. Unexpectedly, it turned out better than I had expected. In fact, Camilla, not usually given to high praise, applauded it highly, claiming it was the best lobster she had ever eaten. I had to agree. It is marvelous.

  • 2 (6-oz) lobster tails
  • 2 tbsp red onion, diced
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 large jalapeño chile, seeds and veins removed
  • ½ cup That’s a Mornay sauce
  • ½ cup Escapade Sauce
  • ½ cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 4 oz lower G. I. penne
  • ¼ cup Swiss cheese, grated
  • 2 oz kirsch
  • 4 large basil leaves, chiffonade
  • 2 tbsp unsalted <butter>

Make the two sauces, if you don’t have them in the freezer awaiting this occasion.

With scissors, snip the lobster shell lengthwise along the center of the back and front, taking care not to cut through the meat. Remove the meat and reserve.

Place the onion, carrot, celery, and chile in a food processor and mince. Add this, the split tails, and the two sauces to a saucepan, bring to a simmer, and continue to heat until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir as needed to prevent the combined sauce from sticking to the pan. Turn off the heat and move the pan aside.

Remove the tails and add the dry pasta to the saucepan, stirring to coat the pasta. Fold in the grated Swiss cheese and one oz kirsch.

Put the tails around the sides of a greased casserole and pour in the sauce-pasta-cheese mixture, spooning some of it into the tail cavities.

Bake, covered, at 350°F for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the casserole cover to let any remaining alcohol evaporate, and let the casserole remain in the warm oven while the lobster is being prepared.

Sauté the lobster in the <butter> on all sides with half the basil, being careful not to over cook (mine required about 2 minutes on top, bottom, and each side). Optionally, cut the lobster into 3/8” slices crosswise and return to the pan to for a buttery finish.

When ready to serve, place tails filled with pasta (and some on the side) on plates. Pour the remaining kirsch on the lobster, bring up the heat if necessary, and flambé until the spirits are extinguished. Add lobster and any remaining kirsch to the plates. Garnish with remaining basil.

serve immediately.