Sweet Butter Braised Maine Lobster with Baby Arrowleaf Spinach and a Saffron-Vanilla Sauce
By Chef Thomas Keller, The French Laundry, Yountville, CA

Wine Pairing:
Robert Mondavi Winery Napa Valley Chardonnay Reserve 1994

Beurre Monté:
The Workhorse Sauce Ingredients:

1 tbls. Water
4 tbls. to 1 lb. Butter (cut into chunks)

Beurre Monté can be made in any amount using the same cooking method. Bring the water to a boil in an appropriate size saucepan. Reduce the heat to low and begin whisking the butter into the water, bit by bit, to emulsify. Once you have established the emulsion, you can continue to add pieces of butter until you have the quantity of beurre monté that you need (the French Laundry makes 20 pounds at a time). lt is important to keep the level of heat gentle and consistent in order to maintain the emulsification. Make the beurre monté close to the time it will be used and maintain it in a warm place. If you have extra beurre monte, it can be refrigerated and reheated to use as melted butter or it can be clarified.

1. At the French Laundry we use an awful lot of butter without serving a lot of butter because of a method and substance called beurre monté a way of infusing meats and fish with the flavor of butter. We cook in it, rest meats in it, make sauces with it. It's an extraordinary vehicle for both heat and flavor. Here is what beurre monté is: a few drops of water and chunks of butter whisked over a moderate heat to melt the butter and keep it emulsified. In one piece. Creamy. Solid butter is, an emulsification of butter fat, water, and milk solids; beurre monte is a way to manipulate the emulsification into liquid form.

2. Lobster poached in beurre monté is like no other lobster. It's so reminiscent to me of American cuisine. When it's done right, this butter poached lobster reminds me of Maine lobster that you eat with drawn butter, and for me that's what lobster is all about. Poaching lobster in beurre monté is the perfect way to cook lobster and it's also an easy way to cook lobster. First, it impregnates the meat with that buttery flavor, which connects you back to that experience of dipping lobster in clear butter.

3. Second, because beurre monté stays between 180 and 190 degrees in our kitchen, it's always at a perfect poaching temperature. When you cook lobster violently, it seizes up, it's impossible to get any flavor into it; poaching it in butter, mellows it out. Butter poached lobster is meltingly tender, moist and flavorful. And because of the gentle temperature, it's harder to over cook it; the lobster hits the right point of doneness and stays there for a while. This is great to do at home. Make your beurre monté, bring it to 180, 190 degrees, pop your cleaned lobster tails and claws in beurre monté, and let them poach for five or six minutes. I would eat them straight out of the butter myseif.

4. This technique works not just with lobster but with just about any firm meaty fish. Monk fish is great this way, for instance, and so is sea bass.

5. We use beurre monté to baste meats and this has several purposes. When we sauté beef or venison or a saddle of lamb, we typically finish cooking it in the oven. But before we do, we drain the fat out of the pan and | ladle a little beurre monté over the meat. This helps to keep the meat moist, enhances the flavor and also improves the cooking, because the even layer of fat—the beurre monté—is a heat conductor. (We always let the pan cool down a little though; if the pan's too hot, the beurre monté will separate and the solids will burn.)

6. When the meats are done, they come out of the oven and are submerged in beurre monté—it's the perfect resting medium. It actually lowers the temperature of the meat, reducing the carryover cooking, then maintains it at a great serving temperature. But most important, the weight of the fat surrounding the meat keeps the meat juices from leaking out—they stay in the meat. So here, we use beurre monté as environmental control, and it enhances the flavor.

7. Almost all our canapé sauces are made á la minute with beurre monté. The sauce for the blinis, for oysters and pearls, for bacon and eggs—all are simply a spoonful of beurre monté with different fiavoring ingredients.

8. And finally, what we don't use, we simply clarify the next day and use this clear butter for Hollandaise or for sautéing scallops, soft-shelled crabs, crepes. You can do that or simple refrigerate it and use it the same way you'd use whole butter for cooking.

9. For recipes in this book that require only a tablespoon or two of beurre monté, you can substitute whole butter by melting it in the pan you're cooking in. For sauces, you can likewise swirl in whole butter—a procedure traditionally called monté au beurre.

Tempura Batter Ingredients:
3 cups Cake Flour
3/4 cup Corn Starch
1 tbls. Baking Soda
1 tspn. Salt
2 cups Tonic Water

First, mix all dry ingredients together, then use a sifter to evenly disperse all together. In a large metal bowl, add tonic water to dry ingredients, stirring until it reaches the consistency of a thick milkshake.

Saffron-Vanilla Sauce Ingredients:
(Makes 1 cup)
1/2 Vanilla Bean (split)
1 cup Chicken Stock
1/4 tspn. Saffron Threads
1 1/2 tspns. Heavy Cream
10 tbls. (5 oz.) Butter (unsalted, cut into 8 pieces)

Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into a small saucepan and add the vanilla pod, chicken stock, and saffron threads. Bring the stock to a simmer, then simmer until reduced to a glaze (1 to 1 1/2 tbls.). Add the cream and simmer for a few more seconds. Over medium heat, whisk in the butter bit by bit (as you would for Beurre monté). It is critical to maintain the sauce at the correct temperature, as it can break if it becomes too hot or cold. Strain the sauce in mix for several seconds with an immersion blender to emulsify (if you do not have an immersion blender, you can use a regular one, but rinse out the blender container with hot water before adding the sauce, so it stays warm). Keep the sauce in a warm place.

Links to more Thomas Keller Recipes:
Braised Stuffed Pig’s Head with Sauce Gribiche

Bittersweet Valrhona Chocolate Fondant with Sable Cookie

Broccolini Salad with Burrata Cheese - (new)

Buttermilk Biscuits - (new)

Buttermilk Fried Chicken - (new)

Creamy Maine Lobster Broth, Russet Potato and Lobster Coral Gnocchi

Foie Gras Infused Custard with White Wine Poached Anjou Pears

Iceberg Lettuce Slices with Blue Cheese Dressing, Oven-Roasted Tomatoes, Bacon, and Brioche Croutons - (new)

Leek Bread Pudding - (new)

Milk Poached Wild Turbot with "Foie Gras" and Sweet Onion "Cracklings" and Foie Gras Emulsion

Nantes Carrot Stew - (new)

Pig’s Feet with French Green Lentils

Pork and Beans

Sautéed Gulf White Shrimp* with Jasmine Rice, Raisins and Spicy Shrimp Broth

Scallion Potato Cakes - (new)

“Surf and Turf" Pan Roasted “Filet Mignon" of Veal with a Maine Lobster “Pancake", Clam Shell Mushrooms and Sauce “Homardine"

Sweet Butter Braised Maine Lobster with Baby Arrow-leaf Spinach and a Saffron-Vanilla Sauce

Other Related Links:
Thomas Keller: Ad Hoc at Home

Bringing Home the Bacon

The Great Chefs Series

Chef Thomas Keller

Thomas Keller Joins The Culinary Institute of America Board of Trustees



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