I made these lobster raviolis for a friend of mine who spent 9 months craving sushi, shellfish, and martinis. I promised her lobster once her baby was born and here it is!
This is not the easiest dish especially if you start from scratch. I picked up my lobsters from my fish monger, butchered them, barbecued the bodies and poached the claws for presentation. Then I made the filling (while trying very hard not eat all the lobster) a tasty mixture of: pancetta, lobster meat, tarragon, spinach and lemon zest with enough ricotta & parmesan to bind it together.
Then I made the pasta with the ol' hand crank pasta machine. Boy, isn't that fun. Especially when it won't grip the granite.
5 hours later I put filling and pasta together to form ravioli resembling the shape of agnlotti. Technically agnolotti are stuffed with meat, cream, and cheese. But I like the little half circle pillow shape, so I used lobster. And yes mostly agnolotti are square. (I know one of my former chef's is going to email that correction to me, so I might as well mention it upfront!)
The red sauce gets its flare not just from the smoked paprika but also the lobster roe which dots with little red pearls. The base is cream and parmesan – my fav. If you get a lobster with roe, by all means use it! When you remove the head from the body if a blob of dark green jell-o comes out – that's what you want.
Not to be confused with what some people call 'lobster butter' which is grey-ish green in color and located towards the front of the head. (Sorry, wish I had photographed the parts here). I only stir a tablespoon amount of roe into the sauce right before serving because it can give an amoniated taste if boiled too hard. The roe will thicken the sauce and add a lobster bisque like flavor – a little goes a long way.
Spring has finally started to sprung (does that make sense?) and I think pea shoots are a festive way to celebrate the season. And they pair nicely with tarragon and lobster which is generously mixed in the ravioli stuffing.
To cut the 5 hours prep time to something more manageable I suggest buying frozen lobster tails (the presentation claw could be ix-nayed) and pre-packaged sheets of pasta which they now sell in such reputable stores like whole foods. Check the date on the pasta. Egg pasta should be very fresh otherwise it's no good.
If you do want to butcher the lobsters here's how I do it. And I'm pretty darned fast after killing about a million a day at Le Bernardin. Eric Ripert was adamandt about fish/shellfish sustainability and also that they are processed humanely. This is his technique for the quickest death (we do not boil them alive or twist thorax from body while they are alive even though it's faster)
Put lobster on cutting board. Taking a big heavy sharp chef's knife place the tip right above the eyes in the center of the head. With a quick and sharp movement press straight down through the head (kills lobster instantly) and pull forward with the knife blade splitting the frontal lobe in two right between the eyes. Pick up lobster, turn it over, and make a quick jab right above tail and through body (under legs).
From here it depends on what you want to do with the lobster. It is easy to twist the thorax from the tail and the claws from the thorax. I like to split the tail in half (using my extra heavy sharp chef's knife) and barbecue it shell side down with lots of butter – yummmm. The claws can be cooked in salted (like the sea – I mean salted) water on a strong simmer for about 3 minutes.
Cracking the shell off the claw and keeping it in tack is difficult and hard to explain in words. But I'll try: pull the smaller lower pincer off gently shaking it loose with an up and down movement. When I do this a cartilidge disk comes out with the pincer. It is very important to get the whole lower pincer out in one piece or some one can choke on that invisible little disk. To get the remaining claw shell off I take the back of a heavy knife (not the blade, don't ruin your nice sharp knife!) and whack the claw on the top and then on the sides. It should pop off. Then I pull out the meat!
(Good luck with that, the claws can be tricky).
Some day I'll get around to making a lobster butcher video, in the meantime, I hope you enjoy this recipe!
Lobster Ravioli, Pea Shoots, and Smoked Paprika Cream Sauce
(Makes about 24 large raviolis) serves 4-6 people with a few extra ravioli
3 2-pound lobsters (smaller is okay), tails cut in half and BBQ'd with butter shell side down for 3 mintues until medium rare. Knuckles and claws (broken apart from each other) cooked in salted simmering water for 3 minutes and shells removed. Keep the claws whole for presentation and chop the knuckle meat for ravioli.
1/2 bunch tarragon,chopped
5 slices pancetta, cooked and chopped
1/2 large bunch spinach, blanched, pressed extra dry in a sieve, & chopped
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/4 cup of water (add little by little)
6 ounces ricotta, drained
4 ounces grated Parmesan
Salt & Pepper
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/4 cup of water (add little by little)
1 pint heavy cream
6 ounces grated parmesan
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon lobster roe, depending on what's available
2 tablespoon smoked sweet Hungarian Paprika
For filling: make completely sure that spinach has been pressed dry and ricotta is drained. Then chop everything and mix it all together. Taste. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
For Pasta: Place flour on countertop in a mound and create a well in the middle. Pour egg yolks into well. With a fork mix the yolk with the flour working from the inside out. Once the dough resembles rough cornmeal add water little by little and knead the dough until it is pliable and elastic, about 6-7 minutes. Press dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap to let rest at room temp for at least 5 minutes.
Set up pasta machine. Follow manual instruction and roll out pasta into sheets. It should be thin enough to see your fingers through it. Lightly dust with cornmeal or flour if folding the sheets so they won't stick together
Cut pasta to desired shape and place up to 1 heaping Tablespoon of filling in each form. Seal edges of pasta by pressing firmly with fingertips. Make sure to squeeze out any air bubbles. If dough is a little dry brush a tiny amount of water on one edge. Cook in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes until al dente. Normally they float when done.
Sauce: bring cream to a simmer and let reduce gently for 3 minutes. Add all the grated parmesan and whisk to incorporate. Add paprika. Sauce can be made ahead and then let to cool and refrigerated. If this sauce boils for too long a time the oils in the cream and cheese will separate. Right before serving gently reheat and whisk in roe.
To serve: warm the bowls. Ladle sauce into the bowl. Dip the ravioli in melted butter before placing on top of sauce to give a little shine. Sauté pea shoots in a little butter or olive oil for about 30 seconds on high heat and place in middle of pasta. Lobster claw can be warmed with a little butter and put on top.
For pictures from a previous post on how to hand roll pasta check this out: Pasta Free Form