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I know, you think for New Year’s Eve that the combination should be lobster and champagne, but grapefruit pairs beautifully with lobster. In fact, lobster in grapefruit beurre blanc is Chef Bernard Pilon’s favorite dish (don’t miss his all-scallop class on January 23). By request, here is a fabulous menu for tomorrow night: rich and creamy lobster bisque followed by refreshing grapefruit sorbet. Trust me, people will ask for seconds on the sorbet.

Ingredient suggestions:

The meat of 1-pound lobsters is more tender than 2-pound lobsters.

Each lobster leg has one bite of meat. The easiest way to extract the meat is to roll the leg with a rolling pin and out pops the morsels. Since a lobster has eight legs, that is eight extra bites to add to the soup.

My essential lobster tools are not the classic crackers, but a rolling pin, a meat pounder to crack the shells, and Joyce Chen scissors for opening the knuckle meat (which is the tastiest meat in the lobster).

Lobster stock is green in color because the orange-red color of the lobster shell is not soluble in water. So, the color of the bisque comes from the combination of pureed red pepper, carrots, and tomatoes. The flavor of the lobster bisque comes from cooking the lobster bodies and making a flavorful stock.

Male lobsters have larger claws (they like to fight) and female lobsters have larger tails (where their eggs are stored). Both kinds have the green tomally in their bodies. The tomally is delicious to eat.

White grapefruits have a better tangy flavor than red grapefruits (especially the Texas ruby reds, which I find too sweet).

A little vodka in the sorbet helps to keep it from freezing into a block of ice.

Lobster Bisque

  • 1 lobster
  • 1 ½ cups chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup chopped roasted red bell pepper
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • salt, pepper, cayenne, bay, thyme
  • ½ cup chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • chopped tarragon for garnish

Bring a pot with an inch of water to a boil and steam the lobster (after removing the rubber bands) for 3 minutes. Remove and cool in ice water. Reserve the lobster water. Shell the lobster, saving the meat for later, and smash the shells with a meat pounder, then put the shells back into the water, and simmer the shells for 30 minutes. Strain with a fine-mesh strainer, such as a chinois.    

To roast the pepper, put directly on a burner or grill and cook on high until blackened. Put the pepper in a bowl and cover until cool. Remove the skin and seeds and dice the pulp. Saute the onion, celery, and pepper in butter until clear, about 10 minutes. Season well. Add the garlic and flour, then sherry. Add the carrots, tomatoes and enough lobster stock to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the carrots are soft.

Puree the soup in a food processor (after removing the thyme and bay leaf) and strain through a medium-mesh strainer. Return to the stove and, if necessary, thin with more lobster stock. Add heavy cream to taste and correct the seasonings. When ready to serve, add the chopped lobster meat. Do not overcook the lobster. If desired, garnish with a fresh herb, such as tarragon.

Grapefruit Sorbet

  • 2 ½ cups sugar 
  • 1 ¼ cups water 
  • 4 cups strained grapefruit juice (I prefer white grapefruit) 
  • 2 tablespoons vodka 

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil until the sugar is dissolved. Chill. Mix the sugar syrup with the grapefruit juice and vodka. Freeze in and ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.