Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Eve Warm Tea Smoked Lobster Salad with Gold and Red Beets

The combination of lobster, lightly smoked over burning brown sugar and tea leaves (my adaptation of the ancient technique of Chinese tea smoking), and roasted beets may seem odd, but I promise you they are delicious together. The Lobster is smoked ahead of time and just barely warmed before serving. The beets are best roasted the day before serving and left to sit in a dressing of fresh lemon juice and olive oil overnight to fully develop their sweet nutty flavor.

Just before serving, I put the beets and lobster in a 325 degree oven for 15 minutes to warm. To serve, arrange the beets on a platter with the lobster on top and bathe the entire salad in tarragon buerre blanc.

To Roast the beets:
2 medium sized golden beets
2 medium sized red beets
1/4 Tablespoon of olive oil
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash the beets and trim the top and root, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil.
Roast in a preheated 350 degree oven until they are easily pierced with a knife, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. When the beets are cool enough to handle simply slip off the skin with your fingers, or pare them with a knife. Slice the beets and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Drizzle a little bit of fresh lemon juice and EVO over them, season and chill-best if made a day ahead.

To Smoke the Lobster:
2 Lobsters
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons fragrant black tea-I used Jasmine

Perform the "Coup de Grace" by severing the lobsters heads between the eyes. Steam the lobsters for 8 minutes, crack the shells slightly so that the smoke can more easily penetrate the lobster flesh. I use a small electic smoker. Place a disposable aluminum cake pan in the bottom of the smoker, and spread out the brown sugar, sprinkle the tea leaves over the sugar and turn on the smoker. Place the lobsters on a rack over the sugar and tea and cover. The brown sugar disolves and burns the tea, creating a delicious smoke. When the smoke is evident, turn off the smoker and let the lobster sit in the smoky environment for 10 minutes. No longer than 10 min utes because you do not want to overwhelm the delicate lobster with too much smoke. Let the lobsters cool and then pick the meat from the shells and cut into bite sized chunks. Can be made ahead and refrigerated until needed.

Tarragon Buerre Blanc:
2 Tablespoons minced shallot
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup unsalted butter cut into small pieces
Salt to taste and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 Tablespoons of minced fresh Tarragon

Combine the shallot, wine and vinegar in a non-aluminum saute pan and reduce until the mixture is a syrupy glaze. Turn off the heat and add the butter, bit by bit and shake the pan to incorporate it-resist the temptation to stir or whisk as you get a fuller volume sauce by shaking the pan. Season the sauce with the salt, pepper, and Tarragon. This sauce does not hold well and should be made close to serving time.

To Assemble the Salad:
Gently reheat the lobster and beets in a preheated 325 degree oven, just to warm them slightly-do not let them get too hot. Arrange the beets on a serving platter and top with the lobster, drizzle the Buerre Blanc over the beets and lobster.

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