I know – a little ridiculous, isn’t it? Lobster? Me? On a Tuesday of no real consequence? I don’t think I’ve ever bought and cooked a lobster tail before, but found myself picking up a frozen one yesterday in order to address the issue of a glut of last year’s frozen lobster in the Maritimes (which doesn’t seem to be affecting prices on the prairies at all) on the show this morning. Marketers are calling it the new bologna. (Which, I can’t resist saying, is baloney. Bologna is selling for $2-$4 per pound, lobster is still around $30+ for the frozen stuff.)
If a couple weeks ago I went through a cake phase, I’m now tripping through a sort of dumpling phase; these food themes seem to come out of nowhere. I never plan them; if I do, they hardly ever pan out.
This week I have made peroghies, two kinds of ravioli, pork wontons, spinach pasta (I suppose that doesn’t technically count, although it was doughy) and sourdough dumplings. Am I missing something? Oh yes, my waist. Not that I had one before.
To top it off, this morning I made lobster gnocchi. Or rather I made the actual gnocchi last night, in between shifts searching in the cold, windy dark for a lost dog. I mixed the dough, rolled it into ropes, cut and rolled the pieces on the tines of a fork while talking on the phone (to a friend who kindly went out in search of said dog. No, it wasn’t Lou – have I mentioned I’m dogsitting, and currently have three in my charge? Does inhaled dog hair count as fiber intake?) It is due to this circumstance I can attest making gnocchi by hand is neither time consuming nor requires a particular degree of focus. The idea came from one of my favourite dishes at Brava Bistro. You can find the recipe on their website, but it was altogether too complicated for my level of motivation. I decided to dumb it down a little, and wing it.
I was going to make ricotta gnocchi, but the ricotta was used up in that lasagna, so I ended up throwing a few russet potatoes into the oven to make plain old potato gnocchi instead. I thought I was settling. I was not.
My biggest problem with gnocchi has always been that it’s just a little too much – too heavy, too gummy. Something I can’t eat an entire bowl of, even when I have no problem downing that much pasta. It just tends to sit in a lump in my stomach. But these were ethereal little dumplings, even eaten plain, straight out of the pot. They were even better tossed with melted butter, which is how W ate his. (After much protest, let me tell you.) But with the lobster stock, simmered down a bit and whizzed with butter? There are no words.
Seriously, I thought this would be a nice sort of thing to make for a special occasion. And it would, but it isn’t nearly as fussy as I imagined it would be.
Potato Gnocchi with Lobster
If you like, throw a handful of frozen peas into the water along with the gnocchi.
4 small-medium russet potatoes
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. cream (heavy or half&half)
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 lobster tail, thawed if frozen
1/4-1/2 cup butter, cut into bits
To make the gnocchi, bake the potatoes in a 350 F oven for about an hour, or until tender. (This keeps them from getting watery, and also retains more nutrients and potato flavour.) When they are cool enough to handle, peel them and press them through a potato ricer (looks like a giant garlic press – very effective in getting rid of all lumps) or mash until smooth with a potato masher. Stir in the egg, cream and salt until well blended, then stir in the flour. You should have a nice, soft dough – if it’s sticky, add a bit more flour, a spoonful or so at a time.
Divide the dough into 6 chunks, and roll each into a rope that’s about 3/4″ thick. With a knife or pastry cutter, chop into 3/4″ pieces. Roll each piece over the tines of a fork (I do this by rolling the back of the fork back and forth over each piece, starting at a cut side so that it grips better), then place them on a lightly floured baking sheet. At this point, the gnocchi can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days, or frozen.
To cook the lobster tail, put it in a medium pot with about half an inch of simmering water; cover and cook for 7 minutes. Remove the tail and set aside; continue to simmer the small amount of liquid until it reduces a bit, then add the butter and cook until it melts. To emulsify it, put it through the blender or blend it with a hand-held immersion blender – it should remain liquidy but as it cools will have a consistency closer to hollandaise. Pull the meat out of the lobster tail and chop it.
When your lobster and sauce is ready, cook your gnocchi: bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the gnocchi in batches, not crowding the pot, for about 4 minutes or until they rise to the surface of the water and puff up a bit. Remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon.
Drizzle the sauce and lobster meat over the gnocchi, season with pepper if you like, toss to coat and serve.
Serves 4 (with extra gnocchi left over).
Have I expressed strongly enough how excited I am to be sharing my starter with you? And that no one (who identified themselves, anyway) thought I was crazy? I am frantically cutting and feeding bits of it in jars that are quickly taking over my fridge like a giant science experiment. I will come up with the logistics of distribution (and try drying some) soon!
One Year Ago: Homemade Mozzarella