It’s Julia Child. This ultimate recipe for classic French lobster bisque cannot possibly be improved upon.
Well…maybe a bit. 😉
I’ve slightly tweaked the recipe and steps as outlined at http://mainelylobster.bangordailynews.com/2015/02/02/home/julia-childs-lobster-bisque/ 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
Step One – Preparing the Mirepoix
1 cup of mirepoix (equal parts of diced celery, onion and carrot)
2 tablespoons of butter
Melt the butter in a saucepan then add the mirepoix and cook slowly for six to eight minutes until the vegetables are tender and translucent but not browned. Once cooked you can transfer the mirepoix to a bowl if you wish or keep it in the pan. Note: Don’t wash the pan. In Step Four you will use this pan, including the remaining flavor from the pan, to cook the rice.
Step Two – Sautéing the Lobster
2- 3 fresh, uncooked lobsters, 1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds in size
2 tablespoons of olive oil
If you’ve purchased live lobsters, you can kill them instantly by plunging a knife into the head and chest of the lobster, Julia Child-style or by sticking the lobsters head down into a pot of steaming lobster. If you choose the latter method, remember to wear an oven mitt when you put the lobster in the pot and don’t steam the lobster for more than three minutes.
Next, you must cut up the raw or slightly cooked lobster. Tear the tail and claws from the body. Split the chest in two with a large kitchen knife. Split the lobster tail into two lengthwise sections with the knife. Once the lobster is cut up, set aside the claws and tails, with the meat still inside, for later use.
Fill the bottom of a casserole (we used a large Le Creuset casserole) with the oil and heat until the oil is very hot but not smoking. Add the lobster chests and legs and sauté, tossing and turning frequently for about 4 to 5 minutes until the shells are deep red in color.
Step Three – Simmering the Lobster and Picking out the Meat
Salt and pepper
6 tablespoons of cognac
1 ½ cups of dry white wine
1 bay leaf
The mirepoix from Step One
4 small tomatoes, diced, with the seeds removed and skins peeled off
1 clove of garlic, mashed
A large pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons of fresh tarragon
When the lobster chests and legs are sautéed, lower the heat slightly and add salt and pepper. Then pour on the cognac and ignite it with a match. Continue to stir the lobster shells and shake the dish until the flames died down.
Next pour in the wine and add the bay leaf and tarragon. Then fold in the mirepoix, tomatoes, garlic and cayenne. Add in the rest of the uncooked lobster (the claws and tails). Once all the ingredients are added, cover the casserole and simmer slowly for 20 minutes.
If you haven’t been wearing an apron up until now, put one on. This is the messy bit. When the mixture is through simmering turn off the heat, remove the pieces of lobster from the casserole and let them cool. You must now pick the lobster meat out of the shells, which are still coated in some of the sauce. Set aside the lobster meat (about a cup’s worth) in a bowl.
Chop up all the shells into ½ inch pieces and set them aside in another bowl. Then pour all the cooking sauce (the remnants of the mirepoix, tomatoes, etc) from the casserole through a sieve (to catch any remaining shell) and into the jar of a blender. This sauce will be combined with other ingredients in Step Five. Set aside the casserole but do not wash it.
Step Four – Simmering the rice
2 cups of Bar Harbor clam juice or fish stock
2 cups of chicken stock
¼ cup of plain white rice, raw
Using the saucepan from Step One, in which the mirepoix was cooked, bring the clam juice or fish stock and chicken stock to a boil. Sprinkle in the rice, stir, then simmer for 20 minutes and set aside. Note: You can start Step Four while the lobster is simmering in Step Three to save yourself some time.
Step Five – Pureeing the rice and lobster meat with the lobster cooking sauce
Drain the rice (reserving the cooking liquid) and place it, along with one half of the cooked lobster meat, into the blender which already contains the lobster cooking sauce (the mirepoix, tomatoes, etc from Step Three). Once pureed, remove the mixture from the blender and place it back into the rice saucepan. It will be used again at the end of Step Seven.
Step Six – Lobster Butter
6 tablespoons of butter
The bowl of chopped lobster shells
Add the butter to the previously used casserole and heat until bubbling. Stir in the lobster shells and sauté for about three minutes, tossing and turning continuously. Then pour the mixture, including all the shells, into the blender and puree. You will need to stop several times and scrape the shells off the sides of the blender and back down into the blades. Puree for about five minutes.
Once the butter and shells are well mixed, pour the mixture through a sieve. You will need a very fine sieve to catch all the shells. Alternatively, you can use a several layers of cheesecloth to strain the butter from the shells. Then set the lobster butter aside in a bowl and discard the shells. The butter will be used in Step Seven and Step Eight.
Step Seven – The Lobster Garnish
2 tablespoons of the lobster butter
2 tablespoons of Cognac or dry white vermouth
Salt and pepper
Heat the lobster butter in a frying pan until it starts to bubble. Add in the lobster meat and cook for about two minutes, tossing and turning and seasoning with salt and pepper.
Pour in the cognac and cook until the liquid has evaporated then scrape the lobster into the saucepan (from Step Five) containing the rest of the soup mixture. Let it cool uncovered, then cover and refrigerate or freeze.
Step Eight – Final Flavoring and Serving
The remaining lobster butter
1 cup of heavy cream
Salt, pepper and cayenne if needed
Croutons or crusty bread
A few minutes before serving, put the soup back in a pot and bring it to a simmer. Flavor with additional salt, pepper and cayenne if needed.
Just before serving, stir in the cream and remove from the heat. Then stir in the lobster butter, one tablespoon at a time. Finally, pour into bowls and serve with a side of bread or croutons.
To serve, ladle bisque into a shallow bowl and arrange butter-drenched lobster medallions and pieces on top. Season lightly with freshly-ground black pepper and Maldon sea salt and garnish with fresh tarragon, thinly-shaved black truffles and bits of edible flowers.