Lobster Américaine with Tomato Wine Sauce

Makes: 2 portions. Cooking time: 40 minutes.

Ingredients:

— ½ dl oil
— 1 x 750 grams live lobster
— 50 grams brunoise of vegetables, carrots, shallots, celery
— 1 clove crushed garlic
— ¼ dl brandy
— 2 dl fish stock
— 20 grams dl tomato puree
— 100 grams tomato concassee
— 30 grams lobster butter
— 5 grams parsley and tarragon
— seasoning

Method: preparation of lobster

(1) Wash the lobster in cold water.
(2) With the point of a chopping knife, pierce the head so as to kill the lobster.
(3) Separate the tail end from the head.
(4) Cut the tail into sections about 2/2 cm in length, retaining the end of it for decoration.
(5) Cut the head into two lengthways and discard the sac; remove the coral and creamy parts and mix with butter in a basin to make lobster butter.
(6) Remove the claws from the body and crack them so that the flesh can be removed when cooked.

Method: preparation of sauce

(1) Heat the oil in a shallow sided pan. Add the lobster and cook until it becomes red. Add the brunoise of vegetables and crushed garlic, cover with a lid and allow to sweat until the vegetables are soft.
(2) Add the brandy and flambé. Add the white wine, fish stock, tomato purée and tomato concassée. Bring to the boil, skim, cover with a lid and cook gently for approximately 20 minutes.
(3) Remove the lobster from the cooking liquid. Either remove the fiesh from the shell before placing it into the service dish, or place both shell and flesh as they are directly into the dish.
(4) Reduce the cooking liquid to a sticky consistency. Remove from the heat and add knobs of butter, incorporating them using a shaking action or gently whisking them in, until the sauce is a light coating consistency. Rectify the seasoning if necessary. (The sauce may be passed through a coarse conical strainer.)
(5) Coat the lobster with the sauce and decorate it with the lobster head and the tail spread to give a butterfly effect. Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley and tarragon.

Notes:
(1) Some recipes suggest seasoning at an early stage, but care must be taken that the completed sauce does not become too salty because of the nature of the lobster flesh and the fish stock both of which contain natural salts.
(2) There are two important points that require special care and attention in the preparation of this dish.
— (a) The length of time the lobster is cooked for: lobster cooked in this way shrinks considerably and becomes tough and dry if overcooked.
— (b) The reduction and thickening of the sauce: if the liquid is not reduced to the correct amount the sauce either will be too thin when the butter is added or, if over reduced, may become too thick and salty and be too strong in flavor and too dark in color.

Service:
This dish is served in a timbale on a round flat dish with a dish paper.

Assessment of the completed dish:

(1) The pieces of lobster should be completely coated with the sauce, and because of the dish in which it is served there should seem to be a high ratio of sauce to flesh: the sauce should cover three-quarters of the lobster.
(2) The dish should be decorated with the lobster head and tail at opposite ends. These should be clean and brushed with oil to give a good sheen before being placed in position.
(3) The flesh should be moist and in small pieces with the claw remaining whole. When cut through the flesh should be white.
(4) The sauce should be very richly flavored and dark red in color with a good sheen. It should be of a light coating consistency.

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