- 2 (1 1/2-pound) spiny lobsters or Maine lobsters
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry, such as manzanilla or fino
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
- 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced yellow bell peppers
- 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red bell peppers
- 1 cup thinly sliced seeded poblano peppers
- 1 tablespoon minced shallots
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 cup peeled, coarsely chopped, and seeded tomatoes
- 4 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon achiote powder
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons white pepper
- 5 cups shrimp stock
- Shaved Artichoke and Olive Salad, recipe follows
Fill a large stockpot 3/4 full with salted water and bring to a boil. Plunge the lobsters headfirst into the boiling water and blanch for 7 minutes. Transfer tongs to a large bowl filled with ice water to cool. When the lobsters are cool enough to handle, crack the shells and remove the meat from the tail if using a spiny lobster, and from the tail and claws if using a Maine lobster. Cut into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly with a heavy wooden spoon, to make a blond roux, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.
Combine the saffron threads, 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice, and the sherry in a small bowl and stir to blend. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil and remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a large, heavy stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions, yellow bell peppers, red bell peppers, and poblano peppers, and cook, stirring until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, achiote powder, salt, and pepper, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Add the saffron mixture, stir, and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp stock and roux, and whisk to dissolve the roux. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the reserved lobster meat and simmer until just cooked through, about 3 minutes.
To serve, ladle about 1 cup of stew into each of 6 large soup bowls. Garnish each with about 2 tablespoons of the olive salad, 1 tablespoon of basil, and 1 teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil.
Shaved Artichoke and Olive Salad:
2 large artichokes, all outer leaves removed to expose only the heart and bottom, stems trimmed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup brine-cured black olives, such as kalamata, seeded and quartered
1/4 cup plus about 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup finely sliced fresh basil leaves
Slice the artichokes paper-thin using a mandoline. Place in a glass bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, the olives, parsley, and extra-virgin olive oil. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.
Yield: about 3/4 cup