Butter-Poached Lobster & Smoky White Polenta


1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
1 carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
1 celery stalk, cut into chunks
1½ lb (750 g) double-smoked bacon, cut into large chunks
8 cups (2 L) water
2 bay leaves
2 whole cloves
5 dried allspice berries
4 live lobsters, each 1¼ lb (625 g)

4 cups (1 L) bacon stock
1 cup (250 mL) stone-ground coarse white cornmeal

2 cups (500 mL) bacon stock
1 tsp (5 mL) champagne vinegar or apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp (30 mL) cold butter

¼ cup (60 mL) bacon stock
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, 1 cup (250 mL) in total, cut into chunks
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt

Salt and pepper to taste
Slivered green onion tails, for garnish


  1. To make bacon stock, cook onion in butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add carrot, celery, bacon and water. Stir in bay leaves, cloves and allspice. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 3 hours. Strain liquids from solids; discard solids. Chill stock overnight or until fat has solidified; remove fat and discard.
  2. To cook lobster, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Arrange an ice bath in a large bowl or clean sink. Plunge lobsters into hot water, bring back to a boil and cook for 5 minutes (lobster will not be entirely cooked). Remove with tongs and immediately place into ice bath; allow to cool completely.
  3. Remove meat from lobsters by first removing tail from body. (Do this with tail in one hand and the body in the other, bend tail toward lobster’s back to separate.) Pull fins from end of tail and discard. Hold tail firmly in the palm of your hand, and using a fork or thumb, push against meat from the fin end to force through the wider end. Trim meat and set aside.
  4. Separate claws by twisting knuckle joints next to the body. Using a lobster cracker or the blunt side of a chef’s knife, crack claw shell. Wiggle the smaller of the 2 pincers and carefully remove, leaving meat attached to remainder of claw. Remove as much of remaining shell from meat as possible; remove claw meat in one piece. Clean meat of butterfly-shaped cartilage if necessary. Set all meat aside, or refrigerate overnight. (Bodies and shells may be frozen for later use if desired.)
  5. For smoky polenta, bring bacon stock to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle with cornmeal, stir and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 30 minutes, until very thick. Turn off heat and keep covered while finishing sauce and lobster.
  6. For sauce, bring bacon stock to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce to ½ cup (125 mL), about 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vinegar. Whisk in butter and check for seasoning, adding salt only if necessary. Keep warm.
  7. To poach lobster, warm bacon stock over medium-low heat until just steaming. Using a whisk, add butter piece by piece until fully incorporated and mixture is emulsified (do not allow to boil or mixture will separate). Heat to 185°F (85°C) using an instant-read thermometer. Add salt and lobster pieces and cook while spooning butter mixture over pieces, turning once, for 5 minutes.
  8. To assemble, stir ¼ cup (60 mL) lobster poaching liquid into warm polenta; season with salt and pepper. Divide polenta among 4 warm shallow bowls. Top each with a single lobster tail, 2 claws and an equal amount of sauce. Garnish with green onion.

Serves 4


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