I miss the ocean. Even though I live right on (literally) Lake Ontario, I miss the ocean. The lake isn’t the same. There aren’t any seafood shacks like Champlin’s or Iggy’s. Every summer in Rhode Island, we order clam cakes, lobster rolls, whole lobsters with fresh drawn butter. The meat of the lobster is so sweet and succulent. I always tell my husband that I hate being “landlocked,” that I need to be living on a coastline. As usual he rolls his eyes and ignores me. Don’t worry, one day I’ll get my way and we’ll be close to the ocean.
Trying to appease me somewhat, my husband brought lobsters from Halifax after an interview at Dalhousie University. (Not my first choice of places to live.) Last year, he was in Cape Breton Island on an elective and did I give him an earful for not bringing back lobsters that time. This time, I didn’t even mention anything about lobsters and he brought them.
The Rhode Islander in me immediately thought to make lobster ravioli. Federal Hill, our Little Italy, is the place for lobster ravioli. Venda Ravioli makes amazing lobster ravioli. What I wouldn’t give for a heaping plate of those beautiful pillows of flavor right now. Once when I was at home in Rhode Island, I went to Trader Joe’s and noticed they had some prepackaged lobster ravioli. I decided to try it out and the guy at the checkout told me that he couldn’t believe how popular the lobster ravioli was in Rhode Island and that he worked in several Trader Joe’s throughout the US and never even noticed them before coming to Rhode Island.
As much as I wanted to make lobster ravioli, I deemed it as too much work. My husband brought whole lobsters, he wasn’t bright enough to just get me the meat. One step at a time. I had to clean the meat out of the shell, and after that messy ordeal, we were lucky I didn’t just melt some butter and have us eat the lobster plain (even though this way is delicious in its own right). I decided go with the Federal Hill idea and simply make an egg pasta with lobster that you could find almost anywhere on Federal Hill. We enjoyed it and it brought me back to my Rhode Island roots and the lobster meat tasted like the ocean, almost making me feel as though I was near the coast.
Federal Hill Style Lobster with Pasta
2 1 1/2 pound lobsters, cooked, meat removed and cut into large chunks, and shells reserved
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
1 bay leaf
3/4 teaspoon crushed red chilies, or to taste
5 canned plum tomatoes, crushed with your hands
1/2 cup dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Vermouth, Pinot Grigio)
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
heavy cream, as much or as little as you like, I used 1/4 cup but you can go up to 1/2 cup
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 lemon cut into slices or wedges
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
sea salt, to taste
3/4 a 500 g box of De Cecco pappardelle, or any egg pasta of your choice, cooked to al dente, 1/2 cup cooking liquid reserved
In a large sauté pan on medium heat, heat the oil and add the chopped shallot and let it soften for a minute or two. Next, add in the garlic, bay leaf, and crushed red chilies, and allow them to infuse the oil for a minute. Add in the shells (from the tails and claws) and sauté them for two minutes. Add in the tomatoes and crush them further with a cooking spoon. Season with salt. Pour in the wine and 1 cup of water and let the liquid reduce by half, about 10-15 minutes
Once the liquid is reduced, turn the heat to low, and add the saffron and let it infuse into the broth for five minutes. After five minutes, pour in the cream and whisk it so that it does not curdle. Let the cream reduce for two minutes. Once the cream has reduced slightly put the cooked lobster meat into the pan and let it warm through for a few minutes. Add a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking liquid until the sauce reaches a consistency you like.
Check seasoning and adjust if necessary. Sprinkle in the parsley and drop in the dab of butter and allow it to melt into the sauce. Remove the bay leaf. Next, toss in the cooked pasta and place the lemon wedges into the pasta for some brightness in color and flavor. Drizzle with olive oil and use shells as a garnish, serve hot. You can also carb-load and serve some nice focaccia with olive oil on the side.
If anyone is interested, here’s an article on the “seafood shack” culture in Rhode Island.