Today is the SL’s birthday – and therefore, since I LOVE birthdays, it has been SL’s Birthday week since Monday. We’ve gone to a baseball game and to get drinks w/ friends while our most talented butch friend sang at a swanky downtown club and we’re going to do tapas and drinks tonight and special special dinner out tomorrow. But the other night I kind of went over the top and went nuts and made her a dinner that was just….decadent and amazing. I’d like to share this with you!
So, if you’re a vegetarian who doesn’t eat fish or a vegan or someone who doesn’t like to have to kill their own dinner, you’re probably going to want to stop reading right now. If you are someone who likes to work for their food, then I can pretty much guarantee that preparing this meal for your shellfish eating companion is going to earn you some major major points, and quite probably get you laid. I mean, you know, if you’re not incredibly exhausted by doing all of the work to make this dish happen that all you can do when your head hits the pillow is fall asleep. Not that I know what that’s like. Cough.
Also, this is kind of a pricey meal, so even if you’re not going to get any, make sure you like the people you’re making this for a lot. I’m blessed to have once worked at a plant that processes seafood, and so this is pretty easy on my budget because they never let me pay for stuff, kind of like being an Amex holder, membership has its privileges.
Anyway, here is my recipe for crab ravioli with creamy lobster sauce.
This recipe makes 16 large ravioli and serves 4 – it’s too much for a big serving, and goes great with a salad.
You will need:
1 lb lump crab meat*
1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1 package of chives
¼ cup parmesan cheese**
Good pinch kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper – to your taste, I like a lot
4 sheets fresh pasta 8 in x 14in (or there-abouts)***
1 1lb lobster (or ¼ pound of already picked lobster meat)
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 cup heavy cream slightly warm or at least at room temperature
¼ cup vodka
1 tbsp of tomato paste OR 1 slug of prepared jarred tomato based pasta sauce
1 bunch watercress
1 squirt sriracha
Generous pinch salt
Pepper to taste
Ok, it seems like a lot, and it is, but it’s an easy recipe to follow, and I’ll do my best to break it down. This is a made up in the head of the SB type recipe, so if there’s something you don’t like, feel free to swap it out for something else. Don’t like watercress? Baby spinach will work. Hate ricotta? Try mascarpone. No likey the spicy? Omit the sriracha Abhor Parmesan? Try Romano….get the drift?
Let’s cook the lobster first, because we can do other stuff while this happens. If you’re cooking your own lobster, bring a big pot ¾ full of water to the boil, and add about ¼ cup of salt to the water. Throw in your lobster when you’ve got a good boil, and let it cook for about 7-8 minutes.
While this is happening, let’s make our ravioli filling:
Chop the chives into teeny tiny little circles
Throw the salt and pepper into a mixing bowl. It’s good to get this in first (and you can add more later) but when your hands are a mixed up mess, it’s hard to grind.
Note, this can get a bit messy. If you’re squidgy about stuff like this, break into your safer sex supply and throw on some gloves, but rinse them off (on your hands) before touching food.
Pick through the crabmeat making sure there is no shell pieces (they’re small, do this diligently,) and picking out the black/orange pieces of “skin.” Break up the meat a bit in your fingers, not to shreds but enough to break it up a bit into not huge chunks and put it into the mixing bowl.
With your hands mix in the Parmesan and ricotta, and the chives though reserve a small amt of chives for garnish.. Make sure everything is thoroughly blended. Cover w/ plastic wrap and put in the fridge.
That’s it for filling. See? This is easy.
Your lobster should be done now. Take it out of the pot (carefully!) and throw into an ice bath or into the sink w/ cold running water. If you’re a quick worker, you can be chilling this while making the filling. No rushing, it’ll all come together, great. Just don’t over cook your crustacean friend, he’ll (and I prefer boy lobsters) get rubbery. Let it chill out for a few minutes before attempting to pick the meat. SB method for lobster extraction:
1- Twist off claws and legs at the body. Yes, all the legs. There’s good eatin (the best meat, I think) in there.
2- Separate tail from body in a firm twisting motion. Rinse green stuff off tail meat. Throw body away. I mean, you can pick through it but there’s not a whole lot of useable meat in there. Also, hang on to the white filmy stuff. It’s yummy and will break down in the sauce.
3- With nutcrackers, break apart the claws and pick meat from claws and knuckle. Remove cartilage piece from middle of both claws – not yummy and kind of gross. Don’t worry if it’s not “pretty” claws etc, you’re going to chop it all up.
4- Use a rolling pin and push out the meat from the legs – if you do it right it will come out in a perfect stick-like tube.
5- Break fins off of tail – yes, there is yummy in the fins, worth digging for.
6- Crack open tail and push meat through larger opening.
7- Chop up the lobster in to ½ inch-ish sized pieces – don’t worry about perfection, rough cut is fine. Put in a small bowl and cover/refrigerate until it is sauce time.
This: Turns in to this:
I KNOW. A lot of work for just a little bit of meat. But trust, it’s worth it.
Ok. Now lets assemble ravioli:
Lay out 2 of the pasta sheets out and space 8 1/3 cup-ish sized (Just eyeball it. You don’t want to overstuff but you want them to be filled) portions of the filling a few inches apart from each other on each of the sheets.
Use a pastry brush and lightly moisten (hahaha) the visible pasta on the sheets.
Place the other two sheets over the filled sheets and gently with your hand, cup down over the filling lightly pressing on the edges outside of this. Do this for all 8 balls (hahaha.)
Cut each sheet into 8 square raviolis. You can then press the edges together with more pressure, starting from the filling and work out towards the edges, and then you can go one step further to prevent leakage/separation during cooking.
Put all your ravioli’s on a wax paper lined sheet pan and in a cool dry place until you’re ready to cook. You can do this HOURS in advance and cover lightly w/ plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Let’s move to the last frontier – the sauce. It’s a good idea to eat immediately after making the sauce so you’ll want to have a very large pot of salted water at a gentle rolling boil at the ready – things will move quickly towards the end.
Experienced chefs know that most great cream sauces start with a roux, which is just a fancy French word for a butter/flour paste that helps thicken sauces. We’re going to make one now!
It also helps to have ALL of the sauce making supplies at the ready for ease of preparation.
In a 10 inch (my preference, use what you have) sauce pan melt the butter over medium low heat. When it starts to bubble add the flour and start whisking.
When the mixture starts to turn a nutty brown, you’re ready to add the cream.
Move the pan OFF THE HEAT and slowly add in the cream while whisking – it will get thick pretty quick. When all the cream is incorporated, move the pan back to the heat and reduce to the lowest setting. CONTINUE whisking. Be diligent about this – if you stop before the designated stopping point, the sauce may fall apart, and that sucks.
Once back on the heat, add the vodka and whisk in, which should thin the sauce out to a really nice consistency. Add the tomato paste/sauce, salt, pepper and stir.
Next add your ravioli one at a time to the gently boiling water (a harsh boil might make the ravioli break apart – and stir so none are sticking to the pot. The ravioli will take no more than 3-4 minutes to cook and it’s one more thing you don’t want to over cook – but I promise this is not that hard.
After putting in the ravioli, lets finish up the sauce – Add sriracha if you like it spicy-ish (it really just adds a small bit of heat) and then put in the lobster. Stir. Then add the watercress and stir it in as well. DONE with the sauce.
Scoop out ravioli, or gently drain into a colander. Place 4 ravioli on a dish and spoon a generous portion of sauce over the pasta. Top with a pinch of the reserved chives, and maybe an extra quick grate of parmesan. If only serving two, add pasta to remaining sauce and remove from heat – this will prevent stickage for later portions/reheating.
You are so so so done. And um, if you do this right? You’ll be someone(s) favoritist person in the world – at least for the next few hours. Enjoy!
*I live in New England and prefer Jonah or Peekytoe crab meat. I find it sweeter and more delicious than any other crab around. But that’s my preference. If you’re in the mid-Atlantic? Maryland Blue crab all the way. Or Stone crab in Florida. Or Red crabs on the West Coast….go local on this one! And if you HAVE too? Research and buy the best canned meat you can find.
**Yes, I’m a foodie, but I understand that there is a time and place for “snow” or canned “Parmesan” cheese and this is NOT it. Save it for pizza. If you’re that lazy, buy the pre-grated stuff but freshly grated delivers the best Parmesan punch. And yeah, the good stuff is pricy, but worth it.