Try a taste of Italy with recipes from Two Meatballs In the Italian Kitchen by Pino Luongo and Mark Strausman, including Meatballs with Spaghetti Coco Pazzo (Polpettine con Spaghetti); Baked Penne with Radicchio and Sausage (Penne Pasticatte); and Lobster Fra Diavolo (Aragosta Fra Diavolo).
Mark: I remember eating lobster fra diavolo at Italian restaurants as a kid. Because it was one of the more expensive items on the menu, we'd order one for the table and everyone in the family would have a taste. Back then, lobster fra diavolo meant lobster with red sauce and a lot of crushed red pepper flakes. After I trained as a chef, that formula didn't seem so appealing. Just putting lobster pieces in tomato sauce was not much of a step up from serving the precious meat with ketchup. So I thought about how bouillabaisse is made, by using shellfish to flavor the tomato and wine sauce, and proceeded from there. The sauce is made in the pan that the lobsters have cooked in, so it takes on some of that flavor. The tomalley (which is the green liver) and the roe, if there is any, are added to the sauce to give the dish a bit more complexity. Finishing in the oven gives the dish complete, overall heat.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (230 degrees C).
To prepare the lobsters for cooking, turn each lobster on its back and split it lengthwise down the middle with a large knife (this will kill it instantly), being careful not to cut all the way through the shell. Crack the claws. Spread open the bodies and tails.
Place a large Dutch oven over medium heat, and when it is hot, add the olive oil. Add the garlic and stir until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the hot pepper and lobsters and cook, stirring, until the shells turn red and the lobster meat is cooked enough to be removed from the shell, about 12 minutes. Remove the lobsters from the pot and set aside.
Add the wine and tomatoes to the pot and bring to a simmer. Add the anchovies and oregano and stir well. Transfer the pot to the oven and cook until the sauce has thickened, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven.
While the sauce is cooking, fill a 10-quart stockpot with 7 quarts (6.5 liters] of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the salt. Add the pasta, stir, and cook until al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, remove the lobster meat from the shells:
Using a kitchen towel, separate the claws from the bodies. Crack them open, and remove the meat. Split open the tails, pick out the meat, and scoop out the tomalley and any roe. Set aside.
Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, and add the pasta to the pot of sauce.
Add the lobster meat, tomalley (and roe), and parsley to the sauce and simmer for 2 minutes. If the pasta looks dry, add the reserved cooking water 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing to combine between additions. Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a platter, and serve family-style.
Wine: Classic southern Italian wines such as Taurasi or Salice Salentino would certainly work well with this dish, but for a real gourmet celebration, I say get a good bottle of Champagne.
This page created February 2008
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