I frequently reprimand myself for not taking advantage of my geographical good fortune and harvesting more from the sea. In the last few years I’ve started foraging from the land, making all sorts with elderflowers, sloes, crab apples and wild garlic to name a few, but apart from a couple of mackerel caught a good few years ago I’ve really not got anything from the water. And there’s so much for the taking. We know a couple who used to have a boat, just a little rowing dinghy, which they’d take out fishing. But even better than that they’d invested in a few lobster pots and they told us of one summer when they actually caught so many they were giving them away as they didn’t know what to do with them. Free food. I love it.
Last night we had the next best thing. My son’s girlfriend works for Waitrose. (Well, if we’re going to be accurate about it, John Lewis being a partnership, she works at Waitrose, or with Waitrose as opposed to for them). I’ve mentioned the reductions in Waitrose before (HERE). They’re a shop that seems to deliver when it comes to knocking stuff down and if you can get in at the right time of day you can often walk away with something outrageous. Christmas Eve is even more incredible than usual, but be careful as a couple of years ago I had a bargain joint of beef taken out of my trolley by another shopper. I was incensed! Certain as I was that I knew who’d done it I didn’t have the balls to confront them but instead walked around the shop seething, my Christmas spirit evaporating as I imagined what I could have done if I had the guts. But those close-to-sell-by-date treats which aren’t snapped up by the eager bargain-hunters get reduced even further once the shop closes and the staff can help themselves, getting in addition their staff (partner) discount. I understand there’s a temptation to hide stuff that you’ve really got your eye on and to then get it out when it’s too late to sell it to customers, but I think the penalties if you’re caught are pretty severe so you have to be careful. You don’t want to be dragged through the courts by your tabard.
The upshot of all this is that Jade (the aforementioned girlfriend of my eldest) frequently comes home from work with meat and/or fish at a snip of the price, and yesterday was a prime example. She came over yesterday bearing a joint of Aberdeen Angus top rump and, get ready, four (count them) Maine lobster tails. Nice.
I confess that I woefully over-cooked the beef. I rarely do joints of meat rare favouring the long slow-cooked approach with cheaper cuts (see HERE for Pork Belly, HERE for Brisket, and HERE for Pulled Pork – though the Pulled Pork is just a photograph) and thinking it’d been in the oven for a short spell it still came out rather grey all the way through. Tasted good though and the sauce I made was nice. And I know how to rescue what’s left. (Beef Stroganoff, but that’ll have to wait until another blog).
The star was the lobster, which, as is the way when it comes to good ingredients, we barely did anything with. Lobster with Spaghetti and an ingredients list you can count on one hand, as long as you’re happy to include olive oil and lemon juice in with the seasonings.
Lobster Spaghetti (enough for 4)
4 Maine lobster tails
1/2 fresh red chilli (finely sliced)
2 fat garlic cloves (finely sliced)
1 big bunch parsley (roughly chopped)
We got the pasta water on first, generously salted.
The lobster tails were fresh and uncooked, so we got the griddle really really hot. While that was heating up the tails were cut in half along the length and brushed with the smallest amount of olive oil. Then onto the grill flesh side down for most of the time and then turned over to make sure they were done all the way through. The smell coming off them was unbelievably good – sweet, beach-like, caramel almost. And there’s little more magical than watching the armour-like shells change colour from brown to brightest orange. When they were just done we took them off and let them cool a bit before removing the meat from the shells and roughly chopping it.
While the spaghetti cooked we fried the garlic and chilli in a generous amount of olive oil over a very low heat until it just started to go golden and then in went the lobster meat, tossed around for a few seconds before adding the, now cooked (very al dente) spaghetti and all that parsley. Finally a squeeze of lemon juice and some black pepper and that was it.