Maine Lobster and Black Truffle Potpie
by Jared Wentworth, Longman & Eagle, Chicago, Illinois
The best types of introductions are from peers, and when one chef recommends another, you know you should listen. Giuseppe Tentori is so keen for me to meet Jared Wentworth and to visit his restaurant Longman and Eagle, he drops everything in his kitchen at Boka and we hop in his car for what he tells me is a shortish ride over to Logan Square (we get a little lost—the scenic route around snowy Chicago means bonus time with Tentori).
Longman & Eagle has just been awarded a coveted star in the Chicago edition of The Michelin Guide when I visit—however unexpected, it was not undeserved. Wentworth's cooking is refined within a pleasant gastropub setting—a long bar dominates the room, and wood is everywhere—including the ceiling. The menu bursts with flavorful American fare and has a balance of various price points. Wentworth loves cooking with luxury ingredients, but always uses what's seasonal and sustainable as the starting point—think nose to tail and farm to table done right, not just because it's fashionable. I instantly warm to the way Wentworth is so serious about his cooking but never takes himself too seriously. An example of this is a postcard he has made up using his worst Yelp review, which not only complains about the "dark, gloomy, and noisy atmosphere" but also the food: "Who eats that kind of food? Bone marrow & wild boar? Yucky!" With lines out the door, a Michelin star, and high praise in the press, Wentworth knows he's getting it right.
Potpie, a savory meal of meat and vegetables wrapped in pastry, was once the choice of Tudor pastry cooks to kings in Europe to showcase their skills, and is immortalized in the nursery rhyme "Four-and- Twenty Blackbirds." Less-dainty dishes of savory pies have been popular as a way of stretching the food available since ancient times. Meat, vegetables, and sometimes cheese were cooked in pastry, often as individual portable pies to be eaten the following day: Spanish empanadas, Cornish pasties, Russian pierogi, English pork pies, Arabic sanbusak, Italian calzones, and Indian samosas are all examples of savory portable pies from around the world. Early American settlers would have turned to pie because pastry uses less flour than bread, and when food is scarce, pies are a good way to use up scraps of meat to make another meal to feed hungry mouths. By the middle of the eighteenth century, the term "potpie" was being used in America for the technique of putting pastry on top of a mixture of ingredients in a deep pot, for both sweet and savory pies. Mrs. Lettice Bryan, in The Kentucky Housewife (1839), marks one of the earliest records of potpie being used in the title of the recipe—"A Chicken Pot-Pie" and "An Apple Pot-Pie." The latter is sweeter and closer to a modern cobbler. Almost forty years later, in 1877, Estelle Woods Wilcox published a recipe for "Chicken Pot-pie" in Buckeye Cookery and states: "Veal and Lamb may be used in the same way." Potpie today is an Americanism, a savory casserole dish of chicken, beef, or turkey topped with flaky pastry.
Wentworth gives us a decadent potpie of truffles and lobster in a rich brandy cream sauce tucked under a flaky puff pastry crust fit for a king. A nice way to prepare this dish is in individual ramekins with a square of puff pastry resting on top instead of one large pie.
Maine Lobster and Black Truffle Potpie
Serves 4 to 6
- 2 Maine lobsters (1 pound each)
- 2 tablespoons butter (1/4 stick), plus extra for greasing dish
- 1 leek, white part only, cut into rounds
- 1 carrot, diced small
- 1 bulb fennel, diced small
- 3 ribs celery, small diced
- 2 yellow potatoes, peeled, and diced small
- 1 cup good-quality brandy
- 3 ounces tomato paste
- 1-1/2 pints heavy cream
- 1 Périgord black truffle, shaved
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 sheet puff pastry
- 1 large egg, beaten
1. Kill the lobsters with a knife to the head. Separate the claws and tails from the bodies and reserve.
2. Blanch the tails and claws in lightly simmering water for about 2 minutes. Plunge in ice water and when chilled, separate the meat from the shell and chop into large chunks.
3. In a 3- to 4-quart saucepan or soup pot, heat the butter and sauté the reserved lobster bodies and vegetables. When the vegetables are just turning translucent, about 10 minutes, deglaze with the brandy and burn off alcohol. Add the tomato paste and heavy cream and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes over low heat. Remove the lobster bodies from the pot.
4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
5. Grease a ceramic ovenproof dish with butter. Add the vegetable mixture, lobster meat, and shaved truffle. Stir to incorporate the ingredients and season with salt and pepper.
6. Dock a sheet of puff pastry with a fork, pricking it all over to allow the steam to escape while it's baking. Place on top and trim the edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Crimp it tightly to the dish and brush with egg wash.
7. Bake till the pastry is golden brown and the filling is piping hot, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Chef Wentworth's Tips
"Oregon black truffles would totally work with the dish. When buying them, a reputable forager or dealer is important because many come to market unripe or past their prime—mushy and smelly."
"It is important not to boil the lobster bodies initially because you want the flavors to infuse into the cream and vegetables as they cook."
"I usually cut the lobster right between the eyes for a quick kill."
Made in America
Our Best Chefs Reinvent Comfort Food
- by Lucy Lean
- Welcome Books 2011
- Hardcover, 320 pages, $24.95
- ISBN-10: 1599621010
- ISBN-13: 978-1-59962-101-2
- Recipe reprinted by permission.
Buy Made in America
- Cookbook Profile Archive
This page created December 2011