there's a sweetness to graduation, of which we had a very successful one yesterday. preparing for your senior buffet is a little like being on top chef - you construct a menu of a number of dishes, appetizers, and desserts. you conceptualize the plating. then you get to work - we had four hours of prep time the night before and eight hours on the day of. i was responsible for gazpacho with cilantro oil (my signature dish if you've crept around a little) and dill and horseradish lobster rolls on brioche buns. i slipped on a clean chef's jacket and bowed my head for a toque. you know, that really big chef hat. i'm sure i blushed from my ears to my toes.
but, we're back! so what better recipe to follow up culinary school graduation with than the one i made for it? you already have the gazpacho, so let's make some lobster rolls!
a key aspect of this recipe is the sweetness of the brioche bun. brioche is a dough made from a levain and a pate. the levain is a wet starter of flour, yeast, and lukewarm milk while the pate is the remaining mixture. here, like in all bread making, we brush the tops of the buns with egg wash to help them reach a rich, golden brown. i find that the brioche buns are so delicate that using the tips of your fingers to brush the wash on works best.
now, you'll also need to dispatch a lobster. we'll use the most humane method, even if it doesn't sound very kind. take the lobster. position him facing your dominant hand. place the tip of your knife over his head, just past and between the eyes. push the knife down in one swift stroke, the faster and more sure you are, the less the lobster will suffer. it will continue to twitch and move, be aware that this is normal and the lobster is most certainly dead and cannot feel a thing.
12 oz all purpose flour
1 cup lukewarm milk
.5 oz active dry yeast
bloom the yeast in the milk and mix. add flour. place in a warm spot, covered, for 35-40 minutes.
20 oz all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
2 egg yolks
1/4 tsp salt
8 tbsp butter, room temperature and chunked
in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugar, salt, and butter and cream on high speed until light and fluffy. add flour and begin adding egg and egg yolks one at a time until fully incorporated. switch from the paddle to the dough hook and beat at low to medium speed for 10-15 minutes, until a smooth, shiny dough is formed. turn out into a greased bowl and allow to rise, covered, for 1 hour. then, place into the refrigerator for 1 hour. retrieve and punch down, form into a rectangle or ball and return to the refrigerator to rest for at least one hour and up to 24.
retrieve dough. on a lightly floured work surface, tear off roughly 1 oz chunks and roll into a ball, either on the table or between your hands, much like you're using play-doh. place onto a parchment-lined tray and brush with egg wash. set aside and allow to proof for 20 minutes.
bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until golden brown. let cool. slice and hollow out the insides.
1 lobster, (either alive or you can ask the fishmonger to dispatch it for you.)
1 large shallot, minced
1 tbsp dill, minced
1 stalk celery, small diced
1/4 cup mayo
1 tbsp prepared horseradish
1 oz lemon juice
1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon
salt to taste
first, dispatch the lobster. hold it firmly in your non-dominant hand facing toward your dominant hand. place the knife squarely between the eyes and drive the point down swiftly and surely. grip the body and tail and twist in opposite directions. save the tail. repeat with both claws. bring a pot of salted water to a boil. drop the claws for 6 minutes and the tail for 8. plunge both into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
now take a pair of kitchen shears and cut down the top and bottom sides of the tail to remove the flesh. for the claws, twist the actual claw off and remove the pincer. cut down the two sides to pop the shell and retrieve meat. dice the meat.
in a small bowl, combine mayo, horseradish, mustard, dill, white wine vinegar, and lemon juice. toss with all ingredients. scoop into hollowed-out brioche buns and serve!