Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lobster and Hen of The Woods Mushrooms

Woooo another recipe within a month, and I hope to get another one out Friday so things are looking good. I managed to get reservations for Per Se Friday the 3rd so I am pretty psyched about that and it makes me more excited to do this awesome project.

This was a really fun one and had a couple twists and turns. Before I began this recipe I tried to do something to make my life a little easier in the future: I went through the book and I marked down which recipes had special ingredients or techniques. I then made lists of the ingredients and mailed them to myself so if I saw some ingredient that was difficult to find I could access my email and then pick up the special ingredient and whatever else I needed.

I did that for this recipe, but I forgot to write down veal stock and the requisite ingredients for it. So when I randomly saw hen of the woods mushrooms I wasn't quite prepared and ended up forgetting about half the ingredients.

The mushrooms are an interesting story as well - I happened to see Hen Of The Woods mushrooms at Dean and DeLuca but I wasn't sure if I wanted to make it so I (stupidly) didn't get them, I just saw 25/pound and passed till I was sure. Once I made a couple of extra stops at The Lobster Place, Murrays Cheese and Chelsea Market I had gotten in the cooking mood and went back to D&D to get the mushrooms but I saw on close inspection they were in an awful condition. Chalk it up to never buying these mushrooms before but I picked out the only 4 non moldy clusters and when they rang them up they were 3 dollars! At 25 dollars a pound you can imagine how dried out these clusters were, not ideal.

I hoped to reconstitute them but after asking on eGullet I found out that S.O.S Chefs sold the shrooms I needed and I ended up just getting two clusters they were so huge (and the woman apologized and said they usually have better/bigger ones!)

Anyway long story short you can see the difference in the picture below:
S.O.S on the bottom D&D on the top.

I then set about making the stock. When I think of making stock I think "put the bones in a pot, add water, aromatics, simmer for 6 hours, skim a lot, strain".

When Thomas Keller thinks about making stock it goes like this:

Blanch the Bones
Wash the Bones
Simmer the Bones
Add Tomato/Tomato Paste
Add Aromatics.
Cook for 6 hours
strain and recook the aromatics and cook it again for 6 hours
combine these two batches into approximately 19 liters of straight stock
Reduce to 1.75 liters

That was interesting. But it was fun and it wasn't a lot of work. If I had better planned it would be easy to do the cooking during the day and let the stock reduce (on super low) overnight.

The first step was to add a bunch of veal bones and a calves foot. To be honest I did not check to see if it was a cows foot or a calves foot but it was a small cows foot at the very least. Unfortunately I only had a very small 8 liter stock pot and that was inadequate to say the least.

So I did what any normal person did and I ran over to the Bowery restaurant supply district and picked up a brand new 20 liter stock pot (and a coarse chinois and a pot lid).

So then I had an adequate pot and dumped the bones and the water in this new bigger pot along with the aromatics and tomato paste.

Then it looked this

And eventually turned into this.

After a little while, It became that 1.75 liters from a total of ~19 original liters.

I wish you could smell/taste this amazing stock, I was just sneaking spoonfuls of it once it was reduced.

Up next came the lobster. I ended up cooking the claw meat the same way as the tails and used those for lobster rolls the next day.

These guys were blanched and then de-meated, So they went from this:
To this:
At this point in the recipe the book calls for a buerre monte bath in the immersion circulator, Thomas Keller helpfully suggests that he uses 5 kilograms of butter. Five. Kilograms. Five Thousand Grams. 11 pounds of butter. At ~5 dollars per pound we are talking about 55 dollars worth of butter just to cook the lobster. I opted instead to get a tall metallic cylinder when I picked up my stock pot and poured about 2.5 pounds worth of beurre monte into there to cook the lobster at the proper temperature.

It worked like a charm.

So here you can see the cooked lobster in the bags (not cooked in the bags just vacuumed under light pressure to keep it fresh for when I was ready, it also made it a snap to reheat) and 3 shots of butter that the lobster was cooked in:

I tried to convince my roommates to do a shot of lobster butter with me, only one of them fell for it:

I believe the exact quote is "Hey aren't we all taking shots? I thought everyone was doing one, oh god. I feel sick" so there you have it, lobster butter is neither nutritious nor delicious (in mass quantities at least, I had a little sip and it was tasty as hell!

All the while I had the bone marrow soaking in the fridge, that ended up being a small sanfu because at one point I had called home and asked my roommate to read me the bone marrow section so I knew what size to get.

He read it up until the soak for 20 minutes and then sort of stopped. I of course never bothered to review that section and as a result dinner for yesterday was dinner for today. It's OK because it took so long for the stock to reduce it would have been untenable anyway. The bone marrow ended up looking like this, after it was soaked and cut:

I purposely cut some thicker and some thinner since I had plenty of extras. I ended up preferring the ones cut slightly thinner, but that was just me.

Next up was making the sauce, almost time for service!

So this is actually an interesting process because you go through all these steps that are seemingly redundant but I did them anyway because who am I question?

So the basic process is:

Wine + lobster bodies + aromatics
cook off the booze
seperate, strain
mix together refrigerate
seperate strain
pan roast the aromatics and bones
add the clarified marinade
reduce to nothing.

so I do not understand why you can't do this instead:


It seems easier.

My roommate called the marinade with the lobster bodies "demon vomit" and I can sort of see his point it looks like the aliens from Alien drowned in a purple stained composting pit:

Not something one would say posses a "robust visual appeal". However I can say that it tasted insanely good. Like to a ridiculous degree, so stupidly tasty. This eventually got combined with the veal stock and reduced to end up with this:

Which was the very tasty brown sauce you see on the bottom of this dish.

I held this sauce on the stove over low heat while I cooked the vegetables:
Carrots, red pearl onions, white pearl onions (along with the lobster)

These veggies are packed with butter, sugar, salt, water and done at 85C.

So ultimately it all came together to a package that I was extremely happy with both in terms of plating and flavor. It tasted great and now that I have a little extra sauce this is something I can very easily make again (at least untill the sauce runs out). This is a great recipe. If I did make it again though I would cut the marrow slightly thinner. Other then that it's basically delicious.

It ended up being absolutely delicious and everyone loved it but not everyone loved the bone marrow. C'est la vie.

cost wise this was a decent chunk of change:

Bones for stock - 20 Dollars
Vegetables - 30 Dollars
Mushrooms - 23 dollars
Lobsters - 61 Dollars
Total 134 or 33.5 per person

Now that was for the food if we count the fine and coarse chinois, the larget stock pot, the metal cylinder and everything else the total goes up significantly, so really at this rate my upcoming meal at per se will be downright economical.

As always you can find a ton more pictures including me breaking down a very fatty duck (unrelated) on my flickr account.


Anonymous said...

You gotta break down that fatty duck, then build him back up again, a meaty duck.

topher said...

My favorite post so far. My mind and body are ready for my economical dinner at per se.

Elie said...

Nice work. So, the butter was in the "cylinder" and the cylinder was placed in the bath? Correct? Did the butter mainain proper temp like that?
Also, if you don't mind me asking, how long were the veggies cooked for at 85C?

Kevin Stadmeyer said...


Yes you have it, the cylinder did maintain the temperature the water flowing around it created adequate temp transfer.

The veggies were cooked for approximately 40 minutes, TK lists it as 30-60 minutes so I went for somewhere in the middle.

maso4 said...

WARNING: Lobster butter shots are a powerful aphrodisiac-

roopa said...

Awesome job Kevin. As you know I don't eat crustaceans but I can still appreciate when they're prepared well, and you've done a great job. :)

mason55 said...

@maso4 I don't think I like the direction this blog is headed :(