Living in DC and Maryland, I grew up eating blue crabs, steamed and liberally scattered in Old Bay. The meat is delicate and sweet and worth every finger-burning minute of picking. In all honesty, I never really understood our country’s obsession with lobster as the king of the crustaceans. For one thing, it is a very tricky protein to cook. The meat, even at the best of restaurants, so easily falls off the sides of the perfect texture bell curve. But, in this luxurious yet light salad, with a gentle poach in butter and a light toss in a lemon thyme vinaigrette, I believe it has found its perfect dancing partner.
*To poach the lobster:
Remove meat from 2 lobster tails. You can use kitchen shears to cut the shell up the front and gently pull out the tail meat in one piece.
Make your poaching liquid: Cube 3-4 sticks of butter. Heat 1 tablespoon of water in a small pan, and, keeping heat low and whisking continuously, drop in butter pieces a couple at a time. This process is slow, but it will allow the butter sauce to become properly emulsified, smooth, creamy, and stable. (Voila! You’ve just made a beurre monte!)
Gently slide the the tails into the butter. They should be submerged. Keep the temp just below a simmer (<190 degrees). You should not see any bubbling. This method is slow and gentle, and will yield a firm, yet delicate and toothsome texture. Depending on the size of the tails, they should be cooked in 5-7 minutes. You can check their temp if you’re not sure– 140/145 degrees internal should be just about right. They should be firm and white, not rubbery. Slice into bite sized pieces or keep the tails whole, depending on how you want to plate your salad.
Toss the morsels of butter-poached lobster with slices of the sweetest stone fruit in season and tender grassy mâche. Lightly dress with a lemony herb vinaigrette. Plate up, admire, and enjoy.
Lemon thyme vinaigrette:
4 T lemon juice
4 T champagne vinegar
½ tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp minced lemon thyme
½-¾ cup olive oil
Whisk together first 4 ingredients. Emulsify with olive oil; check at ½ cup for desired acidity level and add more oil as needed. Season with pinch of sugar, salt and pepper.
*The butter poaching method for lobster tails is adapted from Thomas Keller’s French Laundry recipe.