We’ve had family visiting from Seattle for the past several days, and on the first day we put together a clambake – a huge pot (about 7 gallons) filled with potatoes, chorizo, sausage, corn on the cob, steamers, little necks, and lobster.
July is the month of Visiting Family Members From Outside New England, which means, in addition to Alex and Julia having to share a bed, lobster.
Now, there are several types of lobster eaters. There are the Big Claws and Tail Only people. There are the I’ll Eat Other Parts of the Lobster As Long As I Don’t Have to Pick Through All The Body and Squeeze Out All The Meat in Those Skinny Legs Myself people. There are the ICK, What’s That??? people. And there are the people who will eat every last scrap of edible lobster – meat, fat, coral (roe) and tomalley (liver) – and will suck all of this down faster than the Big Claw and Tail people can get their crackers and picks going.
I belong to the latter group.
There are times when I curb my impulses and leave the body and little skinny claws alone, just so we have meat to do something with the next day.
Yes, that’s right. Seafood! In sausage form! Is there no end to the sausage madness?
We decided to make a batch of Lobster, Shrimp and Leek Sausage (from Charcuterie) to serve as part of the appetizer segments of both Christmas Eve and Christmas. Not a ton of it, because we didn’t know how it would be. But enough for everyone to taste.
And so everyone could say “Wow! I’ve never had lobster sausage before!”
I know, it would be more ooo la la-ish if there was a garnish of some sort...perhaps a different plate...maybe a bud vase with a freshly plucked rose...a candle...something.
But there isn't. This is just a straight-up picture of breakfast today.
To rewind a bit...
Last night Uncle Werner (he and his daughter, Beth, are staying with us this week) bought lobsters and littlenecks (Thank you!), which we had for dinner along with a giant (2 lb) pattypan squash that I cut open, baked, and then stuffed with a mixture of black rice, tomato, chives, some of the shredded squash, ummmmmmmm basil, tarragon and I don't remember what else. It was kind of a warm rice salad, basically, sitting in a squashy yellow serving vessel.
It wasn't the star of the show, but people seemed to like it.
Back to the seafood.
While the water came to a boil in one of Bill's big brew pots outside...
Bill and Joe shucked the little necks out on the deck.
And Uncle Werner and Alex hung out to taste-test the clams as needed.
Alex was especially happy to help.
He likes hanging out with the bigger guys.
Bill looks a bit anxious...like he's worried Alex won't slurp properly.
Not to worry, though. Alex is a pro.
As is Uncle Werner, though he wasn't caught mid-slurp here. I only do that to my children.
Anyway, there were over 30 little necks shucked. There aren't that many in the pan, of course.
If it came down to a competition between Werner and Alex over who could eat the most, I'm not sure who would win. In my silly little mind I picture them in a darkened room, hunched over their plates, matching each other shell for shell and slamming the empties down on the table after each successful slurp.
Werner's got experience on his side, but Alex has enthusiasm. They both have that all-important sense of competitiveness, too.
I don't know.
But we weren't about to stage something like that yesterday. The rest of us (most of us) wanted to do some slurping of our own. (I didn't get pictures of Emily or Beth - I got sidetracked by the eating part.)
Well, all except this guy.
I didn't take pictures of us all devouring lobster, partly because no one (except my kids) would allow it and also because I needed both hands to crack the shells and pick out the meat. You'll just have to imagine it. Think of a school of pirhanas attacking...oh...a big meaty cow leg that's fallen into the water (not sure why it's in there, but just play along with me, okay?) and that's about how we all behaved.
At the end of the frenzy, there were two claws and two bodies left. (Lobster bodies.) I picked those clean last night and saved the meat for this morning.
Now, I probably make one, maybe two lobster omelets a year. I started doing it (I wouldn't call it a tradition, because it doesn't fall on a particular date or anything...just a day after we've had lobster) many years ago (pre-kids) when we had the little boat and Bill had lobster pots. I remember I made a lobster omelet the morning that we closed on this house. So it's sort of a celebratory thing, I guess. But then, it's lobster, so that in itself it something to celebrate.
So, back in the kitchen.
I cut the claw meat into little chunks, and the rest of the meat was already small enough for my purposes.
I picked a bit of tarragon from the garden and pulled up a scallion (it was big enough, and I had permission) and brought those inside, cleaned them off and chopped them up. I also minced a small clove of garlic and about a tablespoon of onion.
In the past, I've made one or two smaller omelets in my little 8" pan, but this time I decided to make one great big omelet so we could all eat at the same time.
First I melted some butter in the pan (my 14" All-Clad treasure) and added the minced onion, the garlic, and a bit of the scallion. I let everything soften and then I added a slug of white wine (it was a pino grigio, I think), a sprinkle of salt, and the tomalley (lobster liver) I'd set aside from the lobster bodies. (Oh, you don't know the restraint I showed by not eating that myself when no one was around. I love that stuff.)
I stirred the mixture around in the pan until the tomalley had pretty much melted and it smelled delicious.
That was to be the sauce for the omelet. I poured that in a bowl and started with a fresh knob of butter. While that melted, I set the oven at 375 and started cracking eggs - 8 of them - into a bowl. A nice, wide, lightweight bowl, so I could whisk them vigorously and look all chef-like.
When the butter was hot and the eggs were frothy, I poured the eggs into the pan and let them just sit there, on the heat, for a few minutes.
When the eggs had started to set, I added the lobster meat, the rest of the scallions and the tarragon, and little bits of goat cheese.
Every time I make a lobster omelet, I experiment with different herb combinations and different cheeses. So I've never made any two the same. And I think that's part of the fun of it.
Anyway, I put the pan in the oven and made toast while the omelet continued to cook a bit, and then about five or six minutes later, the toast was buttered and stacked on a plate, the table was set (thanks, Bill!) and hungry people were banging utensils on the table and - okay, that part isn't true. Besides, the kids had already eaten.
I took the omelet out (carefully! The handle is hot now!) and ran a thin spatula under the edges to make sure it wasn't sticking anywhere.
And then, with a flick of the wrist, I flipped the omelet out onto a board. Just like that!
Okay, not really. I used the spatula to flip half the omelet over onto the other half, and then I held the handle and the little...other handle...on the pan and THEN I flipped it over so the omelet (prettier side up) landed on the wooden cutting board I was using to serve it. (We didn't have anything else big enough that wouldn't break if I dropped the big pan on it.)
I cut the omelet into quarters and served it up to Beth and Uncle Werner and Bill and myself - and Julia, (who has a dog's sense of smell, I swear) who managed to show up just as I was slicing. Bill gave her two bites of his omelet and I gave her two (small) bits of mine and then we told her to scram. She begged one slice of toast and then scampered away.
I drizzled some of the tomalley sauce over the omelets (except Beth's - she's not nuts about liver) and we dug in.
Everyone enjoyed it. Bill said every bite was different - sometimes you'd taste tarragon, other bites you'd get more lobster, others were more goat cheesey. I spooned some of the leftover tomalley sauce on my toast - oh, I could eat that every day for a month and be quite content, folks.
I think sometimes I love things like crab and lobster more the second day, when I get to mess around with the leftover meat and be all creative and pretend i'm an Iron Chef (in my head). Okay, not that Iron Chef part. That would be silly!
Anyway, we had some crab parts left after Friday's seafood feast...
Pick the lobster meat from approximately two lobsters. Chop into small pieces. Don't forget to pick the meat out of the body. And for goodness' sake, don't forget to include the coral and tomalley. They are FLAVOR!