Four years ago I thought I had perfected lobster ravioli, but meanwhile I have developed an alternate version that is at least as good (and is an even better pairing with high quality oaked Chardonnay). This version has more texture in the filling because the nicer parts of the lobster are chopped rather than pureed. The filling includes ricotta which makes it more creamy, and the sauce is a lobster bisque that is very creamy and full of lobster flavor, with only a touch of tomato paste (mostly for color).
Ravioli are still my signature dish and I recently make this to accompany a Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, one of the best (and most expensive) Chardonnays in the world from Burgundy, France. The ravioli our delicious and full of lobster flavor, and well worth the effort.
For 30 to 36 ravioli, serves 4 to 6 as a primo piatto
1 live lobster of about 600 grams (1.3 lbs)
80 grams (1/3 cup) ricotta
1 carrot, 1 onion, 1 stick of celery, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
250 ml (1 cup) cream (I used light cream with 7% fat)
fresh pasta dough from 2 eggs and 1 1/3 cup of Italian 00 flour
60 ml (1/4 cup) dry white wine
fresh basil, chiffonade (thinly sliced)
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp tomato paste
Put about 4 litres (4 quarts) of water in a large pot with chopped onion, celery, and carrot, as well as the peppercorns and bay leaf. Bring this to a boil.
When the water has reached a rolling boil, keep the heat high and add the lobster, head first, so it will be killed instantly. If you prefer you could kill the lobster with a large knife first.
Let the lobster boil for a minute.
Then take it out…
…and plunge it in cold water.
Remove the legs and claws, and return them to the boiling water. Cook them for 6 minutes. After that, plunge the legs and claws in cold water to cool them.
In the meantime, separate the tail from the body.
Remove the inside of the body and discard. (The gills will give a bitter taste to the sauce. If you like you can extract the tomalley and use it in the filling, but it does have a very strong flavor.)
Reserve all the shells for the sauce.
Take the lobster meat out of the tail and chop it roughly. (Reserve the shells.) Pat the lobster meat dry with paper towels.
Heat a tablespoon of butter in a small frying pan. Add the lobster meat and quickly brown it over medium high heat…
…until golden on all sides.
Deglaze with 60 ml of white wine.
Take the lobster meat out of the pan and reserve. Reduce the wine to about a tablespoon, stirring regularly.
Take the meat out of the claws and legs (the latter using a rolling pin).
Sort the meat into two categories. The ‘nice’ meat is the butter sauteed meat from the tail and the firm meat from the claws (but not the softer tips). The legs, knuckles and soft tips of the claws are the ‘less nice’ meat.
Add all of the shells to the stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes to extract the lobster flavor.
Put the ‘less nice’ lobster meat in a blender or food processor together with the reduced wine and butter mixture plus the ricotta.
Process or blend into a smooth puree.
Chop the ‘nice’ lobster meat into brunoise (small dice).
Mix the lobster puree with the diced lobster meat. Season with salt and (a little bit of!) cayenne pepper to taste. The cayenne pepper should just enhance the flavor, not overpower it.
Cover the filling and allow to firm up in the refrigerator.
After the stock has simmered for half an hour, strain the solid parts out. First with a colander…
…and then with a fine sieve.
Put the lobster stock in a wide (frying) pan and bring to a boil.
Reduce over medium heat, stirring regulary, until it is quite thick (about 100 ml or half a cup).
Add about a teaspoon of tomato paste…
…and 250 ml of cream.
Stir well, and season with (again a little bit) of cayenne pepper. Taste it. It is very unlikely that you think salt needs to be added. If you think the flavor is too strong, you may wish to add more cream.
Turn off the heat. The lobster bisque sauce is now ready.
Make fresh pasta dough with 2 eggs. Roll it out to the thinnest setting. In this case I wanted to make pretty ravioli so I used a small round cookie cutter to cut circles out of the pasta dough. I put about a teaspoon of filling on half of the circles.
Then I closed them with the other half of the circles, making sure not to trap any air. Click here for my extensive instructions and tips for making homemade ravioli.
Then I used a slightly smaller cookie cutter to trim the ravioli and make them look even more pretty.
Arrange the ravioli on a floured surface in a single layer, and make sure to turn them after half an hour or so to allow both sides to air dry (and prevent sticking). Because of the ricotta in the filling there is a risk of sogginess and sticking.
Up till here everything can be prepared in advance. Store the ravioli in a cool place for a couple of hours or in the refrigerator if for a longer time.
When it is time to serve, gently heat up the bisque. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the ravioli. Cook them for 2 minutes, then lift them out with a strainer and add to the bisque.
When you have transferred all of the ravioli to the bisque, very gently toss them to coat them with the sauce.
Serve on preheated plates, garnished with some fresh basil chiffonade.
As already mentioned in the introduction, this is outstanding with great expensive white Burgundy such as Meursault, Corton-Charlemagne, Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet or Saint-Aubin. Preferably Premier Cru or Grand Cru. Other complex oaked chardonnays would work too.
White chocolate crème brûlée is a very nice variation of the regular version that is great with strawberries.