Lobster from Florida? They are remarkably delicious and while they aren’t as widely known and their Maine cousins, they lack nothing in flavor. Dickie Brennan’s New Orleans restaurants enjoy global acclaim. His steak recipe is elegant and appropriate for the holiday season. Finishing off with a heritage Kentucky Bourbon bread pudding is but a warm-up for the feasts of December.
Florida Lobster Bisque
Justin Timineri, State Chef and Florida Culinary Ambassador
1 ½ pounds cooked Florida lobster meat
1 rib Florida celery, finely chopped
1 Florida carrot, finely chopped
1 Florida tomato, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
8 black peppercorns
½ cup brandy
½ cup dry sherry
4 cups fish stock or bottled clam juice
¼ cup tomato paste
½ cup heavy cream
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Slice cooked lobster meat into medallions, reserving a few slices for garnish. Coarsely chop remaining slices; cover and chill. In a 6-quart stockpot sauté the vegetables, garlic, herbs, and peppercorns in oil over medium-high heat until soft. Carefully add the brandy and sherry; simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated. Add the fish stock and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Strain the stock into a large saucepan; discard remaining solids. Add tomato paste and simmer for 10 minutes until stock is reduced to 3 cups of liquid. Stir in cream and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl and whisk into bisque. Simmer for 2 minutes, stirring, until slightly thickened. Add chopped lobster meat and simmer until lobster meat is heated through. Add salt and pepper. Serve garnished with reserved lobster medallions
Dickie Brennan’s House Filet
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup granulated garlic
1/4 cup granulated onion
2 tablespoons paprika
4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 ounces unsalted butter
2 ounces all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk, warmed
6 ounces fresh or frozen spinach
1 medium potato
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 1/2 ounces white onion, sliced
1 ounce wild mushroom mix, such as shiitake, crimini or oyster
1 ounce tasso ham, small diced
1/2 ounce green onion, finely chopped
Two 4-ounce fillets
Cornmeal, for dipping
Worcestershire sauce, for serving
For the seasoning: In a large bowl, mix together the salt, garlic, onion, paprika, cayenne and black pepper.
For the creamed spinach: In a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Increase the heat to medium and stir until the mixture turns a light golden color. Add the warm milk and cook, whisking continuously, until very smooth, 10 minutes.
Wilt the spinach if using fresh or cook the spinach and squeeze out all of the excess water if using frozen. Fold the spinach into the sauce. Season with the Creole seasoning and keep warm over low heat until ready to use.
For the potatoes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the potato until cooked through, 50 minutes.
Cool the potato to room temperature, then peel and dice into 1/4-inch cubes.
In a large pot, preheat enough oil to cover the potatoes by an inch to 350 degrees F. Add the potatoes and fry until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the oil using a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels to drain.
Melt the butter in a sauté pan and add the garlic; cook until lightly toasted. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add the mushrooms and tasso, and saute until the mushrooms are tender. Add the fried potatoes and toss all ingredients to mix well. Season with the Creole seasoning. Finish with the green onion.
For the steak: Bring the steak to room temperature. Preheat the broiler.
Sprinkle the steak with the Creole seasoning on all sides. Cook the steak under the broiler until the meat bounces back when you poke it for medium. Rest the steak for 10 minutes.
For the oysters: Preheat the deep fryer. Toss some oysters in the cornmeal, coating completely. Put the oysters in the deep fryer and cook until golden brown and they float to the top, about 3 minutes, and then drain the oysters on paper towels.
Spread the creamed spinach evenly in a circle on each serving plate. Spoon the potatoes in the center of the plate. Place the fillet on top of the potatoes. Arrange the fried oysters around the fillet and serve with the Worcestershire sauce. Bon appetit!
Kentucky Bourbon Bread Pudding
1 cup raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
4 slices bread
For Bourbon Sauce:
1 beaten egg
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons water
Bourbon to taste
In top of double-boiler over hot water, add brown sugar. Butter bread slices, dice into cubes and sprinkle over sugar. Add raisins. Beat eggs with milk; stir in vanilla and salt. Pour over bread but do not stir. Cook over simmering water for 1 hour.
To make sauce, combine 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons water in a saucepan. Heat until sugar dissolves. Beat together 1 egg and sugar mixture, adding small amounts of mixture at a time. Return egg mixture to hot saucepan, stirring constantly. Add good bourbon to taste and serve over warm bread pudding.
Sir Verde’s Wine Suggestions: Lobster Bisque soars with a Brut Champagne. It’s the holiday season and an elegant Gevrey-Chambertin (Napoleon’s favorite) adds to the enjoyment of the marvelously delicious steak. Dessert? Try a chilled Tennessee Honey Jack.
Stay safe. Bonne dégustation. Love one another.