Valentine's Day is a little over a week away, so if you haven't already, it's time to make some plans for a romantic meal. You can find a wine-friendly restaurant near you, using our restaurant search tool—or you can prepare a simple, elegant meal at home, paired with a great bottle of wine.
The following recipe is featured in chef Jasper White's book Lobster at Home (Scribner, 1998). When choosing a wine to accompany this dish, bear in mind that butter plus lobster plus Bourbon or Cognac equal a dish with an inherent richness that calls for a white wine of equal weight. To that end, we've put together a list of recently rated white wines from a range of countries that will make a worthy match to this elegant Valentine's meal.
To make this a complete dinner, add a simple loaf of the best, freshest bread, slathered with high-quality butter, and maybe a simple salad of tender escarole and julienned pears, lightly dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.
• 2 live 1 3/4-pound lobsters
• 2 tablespoons peanut oil
• 2 shallots (1 1/2 ounces), finely diced
• 1/4 cup Bourbon or Cognac
• 2 or 3 tablespoons dry white wine (use the wine to be served at table)
• 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
• 1 tablespoon each finely chopped fresh chervil and fresh chives
• Kosher or sea salt to taste
• Freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Position the rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 500° F.
2. Place a lobster facing you on a cutting board. (It's a good idea to place kitchen towels or paper towels under and around the cutting board to keep juices from running all over your work surface, and keep the cutting board firmly in place.) Place the tip of a heavy chef's knife or cleaver in the center of the lobster, near where the carapace meets the tail. Line up the knife and check to be sure the claws are not in the path of the knife. In one forceful and swift motion, split the front half of the lobster vertically. Turn the lobster around and repeat this same motion, splitting the tail. Repeat this process with the second lobster.
3. With your fingers, pull the head sac out of both halves and discard. Find the intestine, a small black thread that runs along the tail and which will probably be in one of the halves, remove it with your fingers or tweezers, and discard. Remove the tomalley and roe, if present, and reserve in a small bowl.
4. Cut or twist the claws off where the first knuckle meets the carcass. With the blunt edge of the heavy knife, crack the shells on the claws and knuckles.
5. With the tip of your knife on the cutting board, cut each lobster half apart where the tail meets the body in one swift, forceful motion. So now, for each lobster you should have four pieces, plus the removed claws. Place all the lobster pieces shell-side down on a plate.
6. Place a heavy, oven-proof 12-inch sauté pan over high heat. (Use 2 pans if using the legs.) Allow the pan to heat for 3 to 5 minutes until it becomes extremely hot. Add the oil and tilt the pan to film the surface. Slide the lobster pieces, shell-side down, into the pan. Using tongs, move the pieces to sear the shells, pressing the shells into the hot oil. The claws need be seared only on one side. When the shells have turned bright red, about 2 minutes, turn the pieces over. Add the reserved tomalley and roe to the pan.
7. Transfer the pan(s) to the preheated oven to cook for 3 minutes. The shells should brown, even char, around the edges.
8. Wearing oven mitts, remove the (now very hot) pan from the oven and return it to the stove over maximum heat.
9. Add the shallots to the pan and stir to get the shallots coated in fat. Pull the pan off the stove and add the liquor, keeping your face a respectful distance from the pan as it will likely ignite. Shake the pan until the flames die. Add the wine and let the liquid in the pan reduce until the pan is almost dry. Turn the heat to low.
10. Off heat, remove the lobster pieces to warmed plates. Add the butter, chervil and chives to the pan, swirling it to create a sauce with the pan juices. Return it to heat if necessary to melt the butter. Add pepper to taste. It probably won't need salt. Serves 2 as a generous main course or 4 as a light meal or first course.
David Cable — Santa Barbara — February 5, 2010 4:05pm ET
Monica Bettencourt — California — February 9, 2010 1:44am ET
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