Monday, March 1, 2010

Sweet, Legal Meat for Lent

Fish is one of the only things you can eat during Lent if you're a Catholic because the "fast" requires abstaining from meat. If you're a Catholic locavore and ice fishing isn't on the menu but bending the rules is, then look to the sea for sustenance.
A lobster caught in Maine or off the coast of Martha's Vineyard is 100 miles away, give or take. The trip to Maine from Holyoke is around 200 miles but on Martha's Vineyard, the trip from the fishmonger's place to where the lobsters live is about half an hour by boat.
In winter, lobsters live in an igloo of their own design. As in the case of oysters, the amount of energy expended building up the tough shell makes for a very sweet meat. Last week I happened to run into a lobster in Vineyard Haven whom I interviewed before cooking, eating, and then eating again. The recipe that follows is for an "after-the-feast" velvety bisque that promises to get all of us through the month of March, whether we're locavores, Catholics, locavore Catholics or just pescavores....before the bisque, the best technique for cooking a live lobster is to boil it in sea water or just plain water for around 10 minutes, depending on size.

Lenten Lobster Bisque

1. Collect all the leftover shells after the lobster feast.
2. Remove the gill feathers, tamale (green stuff—digestive), coral (eggs) and lobster meat.
2. Reserve gill feathers, tamale, coral and meat. They will be added later to the bisque.
3. Remove any other leftover stuff such as eyes and lungs.
4. Coat shells in olive oil and place in roasting pan for around 30 minutes at around 340 degrees (be super careful not to burn!).
5. Make stock using leftover lobster water or clam juice, and add a mixture of chopped medium onion, 2 cloves finely diced garlic, a rib of diced celery and a finely diced medium carrot as well as several sprigs of thyme.
6. When the shells are nice and brittle, remove from pan and de-glaze for any leftover flavor.
7. Put the shells in a brown paper bag and break into tiny pieces with a hammer. This is best done outside or on the fire escape.
8. Place all the tiny shell pieces in a pan with a stick of butter.
9. Melt butter and shells and put mixture into a food processor.
10. Mix until shells are ground as fine as possible.
11. Drain lobster-infused butter using a cheese cloth and discarding the shell.
12. Thicken stock with a couple of handfuls of rice.
13. Add lobster-infused butter to stock and 1/2 cup of sherry (optional).
14. Bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
15. Taste and adjust as you see fit by adding coral and about 1/2 cup cream (optional).
16. Add leftover lobster meat.
17. Serve with lobster gill feathers as garnish.
18. Toast slices of baguette and slather with tamale that has been cooked with a bit of butter and a very small amount of onion.