Sunday, June 21, 2009

ARROSSEJAT DE FIDEUS AMB LLAGOSTA (sautéed pasta with lobster)

ARROSSEJAT DE FIDEUS AMB LLAGOSTA is one of my husband's all time favorite dishes. It is a fantastic dish...almost orgasmically delicious! It's Catalan in origin. The base of this intensely flavored dish is a sofregit - slow-cooked onions with tomatoes, garlic and herbs - the foundation for almost every sauce and stewed dish in this region’s cooking.

We usually make it over two days. The first day, we prepare the lobster, the stock and sofregit..and then put everything together the next day. It makes it a much more pleasurable experience...but it's easily done in a day if you so choose. Just figure it's going to take you at least 3 hours.... and it's going to make between 4-6 portions (about 3 quarts).
I'm not a big fan of killing living creatures....so on the day I have to bid the lobsters farewell....I prefer to have the next day to be creative.
This is a great dish to do with my husband....he removes all the lobster meat from the tail and then claws and then he gets to eat all the little bits and pieces remaining in the body and the legs....usually enough for his dinner that night..and he's in heaven!!! Plus, we have great fun together.

When my daughter, Jami, is home..she helps me with the sofregit and the stock...well..let's face it, for those who know her....she takes over the kitchen and I become her line cook slaving to her every command. But..since she's off traveling the world..I get to cook again... with Jerry as my helper.

There will be plenty of stock left over at the end which can be used for any number of things....soups, bisques and sauces...use your imagination. It is freezible for up to 3 months...but why bother....it's fresh and ready for some creation, so in a day or two, after you've finished the lobster pasta....use the stock!
INGREDIENTS:
6 lbs of live lobsters - I get 5 lobsters ranging from 1-1.5 lbs
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp crumbled saffron
6 TBSN Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Sweet Onion - Thinly Sliced
2 bay leaf
2 lbs vine-ripened tomatoes - peeled, seeded and chopped coarsely (about 3 LARGE or 6 medium)
3 cloves garlic - minced or chopped (whatever is your preference)
1 lb angel’s hair pasta nests or fideos coils (Fideus in Catalan), I hold each nest in my hand and make a fist...then release it into the hot oil.
2 TBSN fresh Italian Parsley (flat-leaf) - chopped
PREPARE LOBSTERS:
I usually let my lobsters run around for their last hurrah. I hate killing things, but it's inevitable for this dish..and crazy as I may seem...it just seems to bring a little peace. I never hear the lobsters clicking in the pan...or the so called scream people talk about with the following method:

Fill a large stockpot 3/4 full with salted water and bring to a boil. Plunge 2 lobsters headfirst (one at a time) into the boiling water water and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from pot to cool (I usually put them in a bowl in the sink) Repeat with remaining lobsters.

When the lobster is cool enough to handle, remove meat from shells

and place in a separate container,
catching juices and the shells in another bowl.
Cut meat into 1-inch pieces and chill lobster, covered.
MAKE STOCK:
Stir together wine and saffron and let mixture steep for 10 minutes. Bring wine mixture, 16 cups water and lobster shells with juices to a boil in large stock pot. Boil until liquid is reduced to about 8 cups, about 2 hours. Use a chinois or a fine mesh sieve and set over a bowl or a 2 qt pyrex measuring cup. Pour stock through sieve and discard solids.....well...not quite...save the legs, the body...even the little tiny tail pieces if you want to pick out or suck out all that meat.

MAKE SOFREGIT:
While stock reduces, heat 2 TBSN of Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a heavy skillet over low heat until hot. Cook onions with bay leaf, a little kosher salt and some hot red pepper flakes until onion is very soft and browned, about 45 minutes.
Add tomatoes and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until sofregit is very thick...about 15 minutes. Discard bay leaves.

At this point....I pour the stock into containers, setting aside 4.5 cups, the rest in pint sized containers for future use...unless I'm going to freeze it and then I put it into labeled quart size freezer bags, laying them flat until they freeze. I put the lobster meat in a quart sized container..and put the sofregit into a pint size container and refrigerate until about an hour before dinner the following night.
Day 2:
COOK PASTA:
Arrossejat is Catalan for “golden” and refers to the technique of sautéing noodles in oil until golden brown before simmering them in fish stock. The pasta is cooked like a rice dish. The dish is usually prepared in a glazed earthenware casserole known as a cassola, but I use an ovenproof straight edged sauté pan with fantastic results.

1. Preheat oven to 400˚F
2. Heat 1 TBSN oil in a cassola or an 11" oven proof straight sided pan over medium high heat until hot, then cook pasta in 4 batches, scrunching in your hand as you release it into the pot, stirring, until golden brown.
Transfer pasta to a bowl as browned and add an additional TBSN of oil for each batch.
When all of the pasta is browned, return to pan and stir in sofregit and 4.5 cups stock; If you use a fry pan with curved sides...you’ll need less liquid

Bring pasta mixture to a simmer, then continue to simmer, covered for 5 minutes.
3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Stir in reserved lobster.
5. Transfer pan, uncovered, to the middle of the oven and bake for 12 minutes until liquid is completely absorbed and the top of the pasta is crisp.
6. Stir in parsley and serve....
7. Be careful of that handle...remember its been in the oven and it's HOT. For your own protection..place a towel or pot holder over it until it has cooled off....
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