Recipe courtesy of Antonia Lofaso

Lobster Fra Diavolo

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My family makes this dish every year as part of our Italian-American Feast of the Seven Fishes menu. Our version doesn’t include tomatoes, like others do, though it’s packed with flavor. Every part of this dish is an incredible labor of love, but I promise you all your hard work will pay off.
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  • Level: Advanced
  • Total: 1 hr 50 min
  • Active: 1 hr 15 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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Ingredients

Sunchoke Puree:

Lobster Broth:

Directions

  1. Par cook the lobster tails: Heat a large pot of boiling water over high heat. Quickly blanche the lobster tails just long enough so the shell turns red and the meat isn't fully cooked but can be removed from the shell, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the lobster tails to an ice bath to stop the meat from cooking. Turn each lobster tail onto its back on a cutting board and cut from the center belly down. Turn the tail around and cut again from the center belly down, splitting the tail in half. Use your hands to crack it open and remove the meat, reserving the shells. Chop the lobster meat into 1/2-inch pieces and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 cup oil in a medium saucepan to 325 degrees F. Gently drop in the quartered artichokes to prevent the oil from splashing. Crisp the baby artichokes until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Set aside on a paper towel-lined plate, season with salt and reserve for later.   
  3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over high heat. Season the cod with salt and pepper on both sides, then sear the cod, presentation side down. Add a sprig of thyme and 2 tablespoons butter and allow to brown. Baste the fish with the melted butter until cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer the fish to a plate, making sure to leave a little butter in the skillet.   
  4. Add the cockles and 3 tablespoons butter to the skillet and cook, uncovered, until the cockles open, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the opened cockles to a plate. Discard any cockles that do not open.  
  5. Add the chopped lobster to the butter and clam juice mixture in the skillet and cook until warmed through, about 1 minute. Remove the skillet from the heat.   
  6. Meanwhile, heat the lobster broth in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the juices from the cooked cod, cockles and lobster to the broth, along with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Reduce the heat to low and whisk to combine until heated through.  
  7. To assemble, add 4 tablespoons sunchoke puree to the center of a 12-inch rimmed bowl. Place a piece of cod in the center of the sunchoke puree. Arrange 7 to 8 cockles and some of the lobster around the cod. Add the crispy artichokes and garnish with picked fennel fronds and parsley. Serve with 4 ounces broth, tableside.  

Sunchoke Puree:

  1. Bring the cream, sunchokes and salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan over low to medium heat and cook until the sunchokes are fork tender, about 15 minutes. Place the sunchokes in a food processor or blender and puree, adding reserved cream if needed, until smooth and creamy (like baby food). Makes about 2 cups. 

Lobster Broth:

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the celery, carrots, onions and fennel. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Sweat and caramelize the veggies, about 10 minutes. Add the lobster shells to the pot, then stir and crush the bodies into the vegetables.
  2. Add the garlic, tarragon, bay leaf, basil, thyme, rosemary and chile flakes and bloom the aromatics for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the butter to melt. Stir in the tomato paste and bloom for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the bourbon and white wine, stir and reduce until the alcohol is cooked off, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the lobster base and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the water and bring back to a simmer, stirring occasionally and crushing the shells to extract as much flavor as possible, 30 minutes. Strain through a sieve, pressing on the solids to get all the liquid and flavor. Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve. Rapid chill in an ice bath. Makes about 5 cups. 

Cook’s Note

To clean the baby artichokes, peel off the small leaves from the bottom and trim off the top inch. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the stem and taste it to see if it should be removed--if it's too fibrous, trim the whole stem off. Use a paring knife to trim the outside of the artichoke. Keep in water with lemon juice until ready to use to prevent oxidation. Before you begin, clean and wash the cockles or clams (or ask your fishmonger). Then, discard any cockles that have cracked. Rinse them with water, pour some salt over top and agitate with your hands to dislodge any additional sand. Drain and discard any cockles that are still open. 

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