September 16, 2009

Cooking Stuff

There is some policy-related news that I've been meaning to get to (perhaps tomorrow), but in the meantime, some actual preparation and consumption of food items.

I can't remember the last time I made anything with chicken breasts -- my preference being, of course, the dark meat -- but this sounds really good, and although it's a tad labor intensive, it would probably make a really good, and healthy, Sunday meal.

And I'm not sure if lobsters are still really cheap (relatively speaking, that is), but this lobster tale (pun intended) got me thinking back to the most recent New Year's Eve, and a decadent meal that I would highly recommend trying to emulate.

We picked up some lobsters from Penn Avenue Fish Company and intended to use it as part of a pasta dish using some fresh pasta we got from Penn Mac in a saffron cream sauce. For the latter, I did some searching on the Intertubes, found one that seemed to meet our needs (tablespoon or two of shallots sauteed in a little olive oil, add half-cup of white wine and reduce in half for about 5-10 minutes, cup or so of heavy cream, pinch or two of saffron, salt, pepper, stir over medium low heat for a bit, finish at the very end with some chopped herbs, parsley or tarragon. I forget the exact details, to be honest - try the aforementioned and you might be surprised.).

Having never done anything with lobster in our kitchen, I followed the instructions in the first hyperlink above:

''The best way to kill them, according to animal welfare agencies, is to put them in the freezer first for 15 minutes,'' he said. ''It slows their metabolism.''

After that, Mr. [Trevor] Corson suggested, put the lobster on its back and slice lengthwise through its soft underbelly.

From that point, you put them in the boiling water.

We had purchased two lobsters. I put them in the freezer for the prescribe time. I removed them. Unfortunately, for the lengthwise slicing of the first lobster, I used our chef's knife with the rounded tip, which precluded me from getting a good first incision into the large crustacean, thus defeated the entire purpose -- that is, humanity -- of this approach, as the poor thing wriggled its antennae and claws as if it were indeed feeling the pain. It was not enjoyable.

For the second lobster, having learned a hard lesson, I used a more traditional chef's knife, and the lengthwise cutting went very quickly and smoothly. No wriggling this time.

We boiled the lobsters and when they were done, my wife extracted as much meat as possible while I made the cream sauce and got the water for the pasta boiling. When the pasta water was ready, folded the lobster meat (most, not all, because there was a lot!) into the sauce, cooked the pasta, combined it all in large bowl and it was fantastic. We enjoyed it tremendously with a lot of red wine before watching the Big Night. A perfect desert to our meal.

A day or two later, we made lobster rolls with the unused lobster meat. As good as they might be on a pier in Nantucket? Probably not, but man were they tasty.

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