The lobster boats around the coast of Northern Ireland are out in full force now for the new season. Nothing gladdens the heart like seeing them out at sea with the promise of their precious catch being on the plate that evening. Lobster isn’t cheap but a little goes a long way. One effective way is to make it into a ravioli and then serve it with a sauce made from the leftover shells.
This way you ensure no part of it goes to waste. One of my most favourite things to do is pour myself a glass of wine, put on a little Al Jarreau on the music player and roll some pasta. It’s satisfying and therapeutic. The results are always an impressive crowd pleaser too.
When sourcing seafood like lobster or crab you need to buy them live. The RSPCA advises putting them into the freezer for 20 minutes to induce them into a catatonic state before cooking. Once cooked it’s easy enough to crack the shells and remove the meat. If you don’t fancy making ravioli you could combine the meat with good quality mayonnaise, lemon zest, finely chopped celery, a squirt of ketchup and a toot of brandy to make a lobster cocktail – serve it old school in a glass with shredded lettuce and halved cherry tomatoes.
Shin of beef is a cut more associated with a winter broth but it’s a tasty and versatile. After braising slowly the tender meat can be added to pasta dishes, risotto or as the base for a spicy soup with noodles. The recipe here calls for the shredded meat to be added to thinly sliced potato and onion and tossed in butter. The mixture is pressed into a loaf tin and baked until potatoes are soft. It’s then weighed down and chilled overnight. It’s sliced and baked until golden and crisp – like a beefy layered chip. It’s then topped with a roasted onion puree. Micro herbs are a novel way of adding a punch of flavour to dishes. Leek shoots add an extra verdant onion impact to the dish or you could add the more readily available watercress.
200g “00” pasta flour
¼ teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
Mix the flour and salt in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Add the yolks and mix together with a little water to make a dough. Knead in the bowl for a minute then wrap in cling and chill.
1 lobster weighing about 500g
2 tablespoons chopped chives
Salt and pepper to taste
Place live lobster in freezer for 20 minutes before cooking.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil and season with salt. Add the lobster and cook for about 8 minutes. Remove from water. Remove the main body of the lobster and press together and then remove the meat from the shell. Crack the claws with a rolling pin and remove meat. Chop all the lobster meat and mix in with the mascarpone and chives. Season to taste. Keep the shells for the bisque.
Roll the pasta as thinly as possible and cut into rounds. Place a little filling in the middle, brush with a little water and top with another round. Seal the edges and repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Place raviolis on a tray dusted with semolina or flour. You can roll out the trimmings to produce more pasta.
To cook bring a pot of water to a simmer. Season with salt and cook the raviolis until they float – about a minute.
Serve in bowls and spoon over the bisque.
Shells from lobster
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon tomato puree
100ml double cream
Heat the oil in a pan until smoking hot and add the lobster shells. Break them down with a rolling pin. Cook for a few minutes then add the onion and celery and cook for 2 minutes. Add the fennel seeds and tomato puree. Cook for a minute and then add the brandy. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for an hour then strain off. Boil the stock until reduced by half and add the cream. Boil to spoon coating consistency and check the seasoning.
500g bone in shin
1 tablespoon oil
1 stick celery
1 tablespoon tomato puree
500ml beef stock
8 medium potatoes
Salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a pan until smoking. Season the beef with salt and seal in the pan. Transfer to a pot. Chop an onion and add to the pan with the celery. Cook until soft and add the tomato puree and stock. Pour over the shin and cover. Place in a 160oc oven and cook until fork tender – about 2 hours. Allow the shin to rest and then shred the meat. Blend the juices and use for gravy.
Peel and finely slice the potatoes and toss into the shin. Finely slice the remaining onion and add. Melt the butter and mix in well. Season with salt and pepper. Press into a buttered and parchment lined loaf tin. Cover with tin foil and bake in 180oc oven for about an hour or until a knife goes through easily. Press the top and weigh down with another loaf tin. When cool place in fridge overnight. Remove from tin and slice. Place on an oven tray lined with parchment and bake for 30 minutes or until golden and crisp.
1 tablespoon oil
Salt and fresh thyme sprigs
Cut the onions in half – skins and all.
Place on a sheet of tinfoil. Drizzle over the oil, and season with salt. Add the thyme and gather up into a parcel. Bake in a 180oc oven for about an hour or until soft. Scoop out the onion flesh and blend to a smooth puree. Check seasoning. Spoon onto the pomme anna slices and garnish with leek shoots.