Today is National Lobster Day. It’s that one day a year that we pay homage to the food of the gods. Lobster, that sweet crustaceans from the sea that is only for those chosen few.
It’s funny how, with a proper spin, prices can soar and we say that’s a good thing. Lobster was once considered food for animals, prisoners and the lowest of the poor. This was true early on in the settlement of America by Europeans. The first white settlers did not venture far from their costal landings. Even the Native Peoples who were here first did not find much use for the lobsters. Their meat was used as fish bait, their shells ground as fertilizer. Lobsters were far too abundant to be of value.
As the country expanded, moving further from the ocean and it’s food source, they forgot how lobsters were once a nuisance. With railroad travel and the invention of canned foods, rail travelers were told the canned lobsters were a delicacy shipped out special from New England. Enough time had past that most had forgotten the stigma of lobster and the poor. Marketing was the key, convincing the upper crust traveler that they were privileged and thereby deserving of canned bottom-dwellers. To dine on lobster was an indication of success and prosperity.
In late 19th-century in America, combining large portions of lobster and steak was popular at show restaurants commonly known as Lobster Palaces. These palaces were favored by nouveau rich as a way of showing off their wealth. By the 1920s, Surf and Turf style dining lost it’s appeal and only regained popularity in the early 1960s. Some claim it was the revolving restaurant at the top of the Seattle Space Needle that brought Surf and Turf back into style again. It was the rage at the World’s Fair in 1962. Whatever the reason, most of us love the idea of a perfectly grilled steak and a buttery lobster tail. This recipe provided both, but in a different way. While not a Steak Oscar, the feel remains. And the presentation is elegant.
Clarified Butter Smoked Surf and Turf
2 pounds unsalted Butter
Cut the butter into 1-inch pieces. Place the butter in a 2-quart saucepan and set over medium heat. Once the butter has liquefied, decrease the heat to lowest setting then gradually adjust upward as needed to maintain a low simmer.
Simmer for approximately 45 minutes or until the butter reaches 260 degrees, is clear, and the foam on top is slightly browned yet floating on the top.
Gently skim most of the foam from the top. Strain the remains of the saucepan through four layers of cheesecloth set over a hand strainer above a heat-proof vessel.
Wipe out saucepan. Return clarified butter to the pan, set aside.
Surf and Turf
2 (6 oz) Lobster Tails
4 (8 oz) Filet Mignon
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
Fresh Black Pepper
Using a set of heavy-duty kitchen shears, cut through the bottom of the lobster shell and gently remove the tail from the shell. Refrigerate the until ready to use.
Season the filets liberally on both sides with Kosher salt and ground black pepper. Let filets rest on the counter for 30 minutes.
Set up grill for 2 cooking zones. Set one side scorching hot, the other side about 225 degrees. With coals, build fire to one side of the grill. For a gas grill, adjust gas with one side on high, the other on low. Add a few wood chunks to create a smoke.
Place the steaks on the cool side of the grill. Place the clarified butter into a saucepan, place alongside the steaks. along with the saucepan of clarified butter. Cover the grill and allow the steaks to collect some smoke until they reach an internal temperature of 115-degrees. Time will depend upon thickness of steaks and temperature of grill. Estimate cooking time to be 25 minutes.
As the steaks grill, add the lobster tails to the butter and allow it to poach for approximately 5 minutes until it is cooked through. If necessary, poach tails in batches. Remove the lobster tail from the butter and set it aside.
Slice the lobster tails into 1/2-inch medallions. Plate the fillets, top each with butter poached lobster medallions, and drizzle with the clarified butter before serving.
Serve with either a classic baked potatoes or Hassleback Baked Potatoes and asparagus for an amazingly impressive Surf and Turf Supper to wow your guests.