Poached Lobster Tail Appetizer

lobster poached butterSunday was National Lobster Day. I guess my local grocery got the memo, since they had the tasty rascals on sale over the weekend. But… I already had the meal plan set for the weekend and I hate the idea of having lobster tails just sitting in the fridge, waiting their turn.

Solution? Simple, elegant poached lobster tail appetizers. Now you might grab a nice size lobster tail and parcel some out for each plate, but I like to use the smaller 6-8 oz. tails, so everyone can have one or two. The presentation is much nicer that way.

When it comes to lobster, I’m a purist. I want lobster and butter (and maybe a little lemon). So to make this little appetizer, I used a method attributed to Chef Thomas Keller at the French Laundry in northern California: Lobster poached in butter.

The trick here is to make something called a Beurre Monte. Apparently it’s a staple of french cuisine and it entails making an emulsion of butter and water that can maintain enough heat to gently cook the lobster without burning.

Here’s what you need (in addition to the lobster tails, with shells removed):

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold butter, cut into a quarter-inch dice.
3 Tbsp. water

To make the poaching liquid bring three tablespoons of water to a low simmer in a 2 quart saucepan with a heavy bottom. Using a small wisk, wisk in the butter, starting slowly with one or two small pieces and wisking each addition until it is fully incorporated, then, as the emulsion builds, adding a little more butter each time. The result is a pale yellow emulsion that’s actually pretty sturdy and can even be refrigerated for a day or so or frozen for longer periods.

The amounts above will yield enough emulsion to poach two small lobster tails. Cook them for about four to five minutes, until they’re completely opaque and firm. You can do several batches with the same emulsion, which also makes a terrific sauce for the finished plate.

You can use Beurre Monte in a host of other ways, but it’s ideal for poaching shrimp, scallops or any fish that’s suitable for poaching.


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