2021 JPF grant recipient Feeding Southwest Virginia’s Meal Production Training Program is housed in a community meeting space that was once a nightclub and the highest crime location in the region. The facility was transformed into the Community Solutions Center in 2018 through a large-scale partnership between the city, the police department, local food distribution agencies and members of the community.
Jacques Pépin has been a huge mentor and role model to me. And I know that he loves lobster, so I make this dish for him. Much of this recipe, the pasta, the breadcrumbs, the stock and even the lobster, can be prepared ahead, making the final presentation simple.
For the Lobster
- 1 whole lobster, 1 ½ to 2 pounds
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- In a large pot, bring 1 gallon of water and the salt to a boil over high heat. Using a heavy knife, insert the tip into the back of the lobster head and plunge through it. Remove and clean the tail of any innards, digestive tract and lungs, reserving the head, legs and thorax. Remove the claws, splitting them into large claw and small claw. Fill a large bowl with ice and water to make an ice bath.
- Drop all the lobster parts into the boiling water. Remove the tail after 4 minutes and drop into the ice bath. Remove the knuckles and small claw after 5 minutes and the large claw after 6 minutes and drop into the ice bath.
- When the lobster is cool enough to handle, remove the lobster meat from the shell and rinse under cold running water to remove any shell or viscera. Dice the lobster meat into bite-size pieces, about 1 inch, and set aside. Reserve the shell.
For the Tarragon Breadcrumbs and Fried Tarragon Leaves
- 1 bunch tarragon
- 8 ounces day-old crusty bread, cut into 2-inch dice
- 1 head garlic, sliced in half horizontally
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Oil, for frying
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Separate the tarragon leaves from the stems, reserving two sprigs for garnish. Arrange the bread, tarragon stems and garlic on a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and toss well. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Heat the oil in a small frying pan and when hot, add the tarragon leaves. Cook until they become lightly browned. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate.
- Remove the cooked tarragon leaves to a small bowl. Chop the toasted bread to make breadcrumbs and combine with the tarragon and season with salt.
For the Lobster Stock
- 3 ribs celery, cut into large dice
- 1 carrot, cut into large dice
- 1 medium onion, cut into large dice
- ½ head of garlic, cut into two horizontally
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 to 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ cup Madeira
- 1 quart water or chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, optional
- Wash the reserved shell: head, legs, thorax; split the head carapace and thorax in half; reserve the legs and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat, add the raw lobster shell and cook, stirring until golden brown and bright red all over. Add the garlic, carrot, onion and celery and cook, stirring. Add the tomato paste and cook until it darkens in color. Add the Madeira and, using a wooden spoon, scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the water or chicken stock and cooked lobster shell and cook for 35 to 45 minutes, being sure to skim any impurities, foam or excess fat that comes to the surface. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean saucepan and reduce until it looks syrupy (makes about 2 cups).
- 8 ounces fresh tagliatelle, recipe follows, or 4 ounces dried tagliatelle
- 4 ounces unsalted butter
- Lemon wedges
- Chicken bouillon powder
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add enough salt to make it taste like the sea. Add the tagliatelle and cook until it rises to the surface and is about 85 percent cooked, about 2 minutes.
- Heat the lobster stock, butter and bouillon in a large sauté pan. Add the lobster pieces, salt and lemon juice. Add the pasta, stirring it well so that it is coated and finishes cooking. Serve on warm plates topped with tarragon breadcrumbs and garnished with tarragon sprigs.
For the Tagliatelle
- 2 cups 00 or all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 2 egg yolks, plus more as needed
- Pinch of salt
- On a flat surface, mound the flour and form a well in the middle. Add the eggs and egg yolks to the well and stir with a fork. Gradually incorporate the flour to form a dough. Knead the dough until it is smooth and form it into a ball. Set aside to rest, covered with a towel or plastic wrap, at room temperature, for about 30 minutes; or wrap in plastic and set in the refrigerator overnight.
- Divide the dough into 4 portions and roll into thin sheets, about ⅛ inch thick. Dust lightly with semolina and roll loosely. Cut into strips, toss lightly and set aside, covered with a towel. If you have a pasta machine you can knead and roll the dough through the machine.