Blanquette de Homardfrom Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook
(thanks Meg and Seb)
8 oz.* haricots verts (skinny French green beans)
12 pearl onions
6 tbps/75g butter, softened
pinch of sugar
2 2-lb/900g lobsters*
1 shallot, peeled and sliced very thin
1 leek, white part only, washed and sliced very thin
1/4 cup/56 ml white wine
1 cup/225 ml light chicken stock or broth
2 cups/450 ml heavy cream
juice of 1 lemon
1 bunch of fresh chives, chopped small (that's fresh--not that freeze-dried garbage, okay?)
a few sprigs of flat parsely or chervil, for garnish
large bowl, filled with ice water
big-ass knife, with a heavy-duty blade
wide sautour (a large saute pan with perpendicular edges) with lid, or with foil to cover
tongs or slotted spoon
warmed serving platter
First, the haricots verts. In the large pot, bring 4 cups/900 ml of water to a rolling boil. Add a large pinch of salt. Cook the beans until tender, but still bright green and slightly crunchy, about 7 minutes. Do not add the beans to the water until the water is roiling!! if your beans look army-green colored and limp, you've screwed up. Do it again. When the beans are properly cooked, remove from the boiling water and plunge them immediately into the ice water to shock them and arrest the cooking. When cooled, set them aside.
Okay. Take a breath. Relax. Next, the pearl onions. Peeling these little ****ers is a pain, I know. Just get it over with. When peeled, place the pearl onions and 2 tablespoons/28g of the butter, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of sugar in the small saucepan and cover with water. The onions should peek out above the surface. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until all the water evaporates. make sure the onions don't take on any color. That would be bad. if they look like they're starting to get brown, or you think that you need to add a little more water, do it. Just make sure you don't cook them too much; you do not want mush. You want tender, distinctive little onions that have retained their shape but are cooked through. Remove from the heat an set aside.
(Some delicate people like to "kill" the lobster bofer cutting it up, by putting the tip of the knife between its eyes and cutting open the head lengthwise. You can do it that way, but it's really not that much help; the lobster is still going to move long after it's dead.)
All right. That's done. Here comes the ugly part. You might need a drink for this: Cut the still wriggling, flopping, and protesting lobsters' tails into 4 pieces each, crunching right through the shells and leaving the meat intact. Don't worry. Lobsters are essentially big ****ing bugs; they're too stupid to know they're dead. And if it makes you feel any better, they do much worse things to one another. Tear off the claws and crack them, meaning give them a good wallop on top, behind the hinge of the claws with the heel of your knife. Hopefully you're using an impressive hunk of German steel so you're not going to screw up the blade. When the blade goes in, cutting through the shell but not the meat, you can wobble or rock the blade a little, prying open a fissure in the shell with a resounding CRACK! Reserve the unused parts of the lobster--the knuckles and the heads. That's gold, baby. Freeze them and use them some other time for lobster stock or lobster butter or bisque.
In the wide sautoir, and over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons/28g of the butter until foaming and hot (but not brown) and add the shallot and leek. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with its lid or foil. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and crank up the heat again, deglazing by adding the white wine and scraping up all the good stuff from the bottom of the pan. When the white wine has nearly cooked away, add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, and reduce by half. Add the heavy cream, reduce heat again, and simmer. Add the lobster claws and tail pieces. Cover and cook for about 8 minutes over low heat. Remove the cover and throw in the precooked pearl onions and haricots verts. Add white pepper to taste. Simmer for another 2 minutes with the lid off.
Remove the lobster pieces and the vegetables from the pot and arrange artfully on the warmed platter. Quickly fire up the heat to maximum, bringing the sauce to a boil. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons/28 g of butter, the lemon juice, and your no doubt impeccably chopped chives. Adjust the seasoning. Hopefully the sauce the will be reasonably thick (but not gluey--just enough to coast the lobster). Pour it over the lobster and vegetables and garnish with parsley or chervil.
Yep, this is is delicious. It goes well with pasta on the side, and crusty bread for all that sauce.
* The cookbook actually calls for "2.5 lb./225g" of green beans. Obviously, 225grams is nowhere near 2.5 pounds! So I think the metric here is correct.
** You can substitute 3 smaller lobsters for the 2 big ones.