Of all my ten brothers and sisters, it was one thing we could always agree on ... which meant there was a lot of elbow heaving and shoulder shoving to fill up our plates at least twice. The race for more entailed a fine balance of savoring the first serving for all its tender, sweet glory and slurping quickly enough before my brothers cleaned the platter.
As our family grew with in-laws and offspring, opinion did not change on this topic. It just expanded.
So, too, my husband and then our children grew to look forward to linguine with lobster sauce on Christmas Eve. As parents passed and traditions changed, we now spend a lovely Christmas Eve with friends who put out a huge spread with a different cuisine featured every year.
However, the craving and expectation for lobster sauce remained in full splendor. So we moved it to New Year's Eve. Even then, as our tots became teens plus and left their parents for friends and others, the lobster sauce tradition continues ... just on another night.
Last weekend, we indulged.
modified, of course, as we all do.
4 fresh lobsters, preferably hard shelled New England ones
black pepper, freshly ground
olive oil, about 3 tablespoons
anchovies, flat in olive oil, about 4-6
herbs de provence
2 garlic cloves, crushed, minced and made into a paste with 1 tsp sea salt
a couple of quarts of my tomato sauce
linguine or squid ink linguine, cooked al dente in the lobster water and tossed with 3 tablespoons butter
In a stock pot, bring to boil a couple of inches of water with 2 bay leaves, a half lemon, about 1 tsp black pepper and 1 tsp kosher salt. When the water is rapidly boiling, add the lobsters head down, after clipping off any bands around the claws or body. Cover immediately and keep at high temperature for 4-5 minutes. Lower heat slightly and cook for another 3-5 minutes or until the shells are bright red. Do not overcook, as the lobster meat will cook again once in the sauce.
Remove the lobsters from the water, place in a colander and spray with cold water to slow the cooking. Set aside until the lobsters are cool enough to handle. Once they are, remove all the meat. As you do, catch any juices or liquids and place into the water in the stock pot.
Warm a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and the anchovies, herbs and currants. Cook, stirring and crushing the anchovies for about 2 minutes, then add the garlic paste and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes before adding the tomato sauce. Bring sauce to a slow simmer, stirring occasionally. While the tomato sauce is warming, cut up the lobster to good sized, bite size pieces. Once the sauce is quite warm, add the lobster and any juices that accumulated in the dish. Stir and continue at a slow simmer for about 8 minutes.
Toss with the pasta and enjoy immediately.
Cooking the pasta in it gives the water a little more body, and if you use squid-ink linguine, then more flavor too.
In the same stockpot with the lobster water, I add all the lobster shells. I break them up as much as I can, cracking them or smashing them with a meat tenderizer and then throw them in the pot. Add some water and/or light white wine (prosecco is lovely, for instance) to just cover the shells. bring it to a simmer and let it gently simmer for a good long time to really extract that wonderful sea flavor.
Strain it, pressing really hard on all the shells, especially all those legs. Toss out the shells and now you have a beautiful lobster stock. I think we'll be making a bouillabaisse for Valentine's day!