Years ago when I was very small my parents, brother, and I would take a two-week vacation to Maine, I know...very New England. At the end of August, we would pack up the car with the turtle shell storage on top. I would take a few tablets of Dramamine to prevent haunting car sickness and we would eventually end up in the quaint home a few streets from the water.
We would eat lobster and clams, we would go to the arcade and take bike rides, my dad and I would watch the seals and he would make up stories about “Sammy the Seal” to pass the time. My brother and I would also spend hours among the rocks on the beach hunting for crab shells only to hide them in a secret space on the beach in hopes to find them again the next year. Obviously, we never did.
I haven’t had lobster the in years since I moved to Chicago, so on the shores of Boston, I couldn’t say no to a classic homemade surf and turf... with a spin of course.
K & C Surf & Turf
3 4oz Lobster Tails
3 Tbsp Salt
1 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
3 ½ Lb Beef Tenderloin Steaks
½ C Butter
½ Chopped Onion
1 Diced Shallot
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
3 Tbsp Butter
¼ C Champagne
3 Tsp Ground Sage
¼ Tsp Vinegar
Clove of Garlic
Yields 3 Servings
This dish is all about prep and timing, neither the steak or the lobster will take very long so you need to be on top of it and do your steps carefully. Let’s begin!
First, take your beef tenderloins out, pat them dry, rub them with canola oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Preheat your oven to 350℉. Always cook with room temperature meat.
In a large stock pot bring enough water to cover your lobster tails to boil. Season the water with about 3 Tbsp of salt and 1 Tbsp of crushed red pepper flakes. After we cook our tails we want to stop the cooking process immediately so they do not become rubbery, to do this have a bowl of ice water ready in your freezer.
After the water comes to a boil reduce to a strong simmer (but not a rolling boil), think small bubbles in the middle. Dunk each tail into the water, lobster takes 1 minute per 1 Oz to cook. Since our tails are 4 Oz it would take a total of 4 minutes to cook through, however, we are going to reheat the tails in the sauce so we will initially undercook the tails to avoid any overcooking later. Therefore set your timer for 3 minutes then immediately remove from the hot water and submerge into the ice bath.
Once cool enough to handle, only a minute or two (don’t waterlog the tails) remove the lobster and remove from the shell. As a born and raised east coaster I learned how to take a lobster apart at a young age, in fact as a joke we used to own plates that illustrated each step for novice lobster eaters.
To begin, remove the fins at the end of the tail, simply twist until each fin until it is detached. Flip the tail and hold the red shell side against your palm, you can either cut down the middle of the accordion bottom with a pair of kitchen shears or stick a prong of a fork under the shell and pivot the fork like a jack. I use the fork method and the action of pivoting the fork pokes the prong through the soft underbelly and opens the lobster shell. Move the fork or shears all the way down to the fins.
Grip edges of the lobster tail with fingers and thumb and actively pull apart to separate the meat from the edges of the shell. Next, you can spear the meat with your fork and gently pull the meat toward you. The tail is going to want to hold on so if you wanted to serve a full tail be careful to not rip the meat.
Set on a towel and pat dry. Set aside. Put the shells back into your pot with ¼ C of onions and 1 Tsp of your chopped shallot. Boil that water! By boiling the shells you are extracting its flavor to make lobster stock. We are going to want a bit of that water for our sauce. You can also freeze the rest and have the lovely beginnings for lobster bisque.
Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat until HOT. Open a window. Place beef into the hot pan and cook each side for 1-2 minutes. Cam was in charge of the red meat and I appreciated him dropping a few tablespoons of butter into the pan with a crushed clove of garlic to baste the meat as it seared.
Place in your preheated oven for 5-8 minutes until the meat reaches about 128℉, we like a medium rare steak which has the internal temperature of about 130-132℉. Even when the steak is removed from the oven the heat it has absorbed will continue to cook the meat, by taking it out of the oven a little early you are using the resting period to bring your steak to your perfect medium-rare. Instead of achieving your desired temperature right out of the oven only to have it overcook as it rests.
Cover your steak with tin foil to retain heat as we make our sauce and pull the dish together.
Place your now empty cast iron onto your stovetop over medium heat, add champagne, onion, shallot, sage, brown sugar, butter, and vinegar. Bring to a simmer and scrape the crusties off the bottom of the pan. Top off with ¼ C of your lobster stock and simmer for a few more minutes until it coats the back of a spoon. Chop your lobster tails and toss them into your sauce for no more than 1 minute (aim for one quick mix for about 30 seconds)! Please...don’t overcook the lobster, trust me you will be sad!
Slice your rested steak and top with your lobster and sauce. Serve with a side salad and enjoy a leveled up version of my childhood surf and turf!