Christopher Villano
Poached Lobster with Charred Leeks & Bay Leaves from Daniel Humm
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Poached Lobster with Charred Leeks & Bay Leaves

Eleven Madison Park, New York City, Daniel Humm / November 28th, 2012

For 8 servings

Bay oil:

  • 25 fresh bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Heat bay leaves and oil in small saucepan set over medium heat until instant-read thermometer registers 190°F; remove from heat; cover; let steep 3 hours; strain into airtight container; discard leaves; cover oil; reserve.

Bay “charcoal”:

  • 16 lg. eggs
  • 6 lg. egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsps. squid ink
  • 14 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 3 Tbsps. active dry yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 lb. unsalted butter plus more for buttering, at room temperature
  • 40 bay leaves
  1. Place eggs, eggs yolks, and squid ink in a bowl; bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment; whisk until blended.

  2. Remove whisk; attach dough hook; add flour and yeast; mix until dough comes together; mix in sugar and salt (do not over mix); with motor running, gradually add 3 lb. butter; mix until completely combined.

  3. Lightly butter large bowl; place batter in the bowl; cover with lightly buttered plastic wrap; let stand 1 hour; reserve in refrigerator overnight.

  4. Heat oven to 225°F. 3. Split dough into 2 pieces; form each half into a loaf, rolling 20 bay leaves into each loaf; place loaves on baking sheet; proof 1 hour; bake until inside of loaves register 200°F on instant-read thermometer (about 1 hour); remove from oven; cool.

  5. Tear beads into small pieces; scatter in single layer over baking sheet; bake until bread pieces are dried all the way through and become “charcoal”; remove from oven; cool; place in airtight container; cover; reserve.

Meyer lemon beurre blanc:

  • 2 1/2 cups white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
  • 1/2 cup grapefruit juice
  • 2 lbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • Meyer lemon juice
  • salt

Bring wine to a boil in a saucepan set over medium heat; cook until reduced to 1/2 cup; add orange and grapefruit juices; cook until reduced to 3/4 cup; gradually whisk in butter a few cubes at a time; add Meyer lemon juice to taste; season with salt; remove from heat; reserve.

Poached lobster:

  • 4 lobster tails, roe removed and reserved for another use
  • fleur de sel
  1. Heat water in large pot until instant-read thermometer registers 145°F.

  2. Halve lobster tails lengthwise; rinse under cold water to remove intestinal tract; skewer each tail half lengthwise with bamboo skewer to keep tails straight; place in large re-sealable plastic bag; add 3/4 cup Meyer lemon beurre blanc (do not seal bag); add to water bath so most of air is pushed out but bag is not completely submerged; seal bag; cook 6 minutes.

  3. Remove from water bath; let rest at least 10 minutes; remove tails from bag; remove skewers from tails; remove meat from shells; discard shells; trim tails; place on baking sheet; spoon beurre blanc over top; reserve.

Shellfish sauce:

  • 2 1/2 Tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup leeks, white and light-green parts only, sliced
  • 1/4 cup fennel, sliced
  • 1/4 cup shallots, sliced
  • 6 cloves black garlic
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 6” pieces kombu, soaked 2 hours and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup bonito flakes
  • 1 1/2 Tbsps. squid ink
  • 3 Tbsps. brandy
  • 3 cups lobster stock
  • 2 cups mussel juice
  • 1 cup clam juice
  • 3 sprigs tarragon
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • lime juice
  • cayenne
  • salt
  1. Heat oil in large sauté pan set over medium-high heat; add leeks, fennel, shallots, black garlic, minced garlic, and bay leaves; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender; add kombu, bonito flakes, and squid ink; cook until lightly toasted; deglaze with brandy; bring to a boil; reduce until pan is almost dry; add stock and juices; bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium; simmer 20 minutes; add tarragon and parsley; cover; remove from heat; let steep 45 to 60 minutes.

  2. Strain sauce through fine chinois into clean saucepan; whisk cornstarch and 2 1/2 Tbsps. water in small bowl; whisk into saucepan set over medium-high heat; cook, stirring, until thickened; stir in lime juice and cayenne to taste; season with salt; remove from heat; strain into clean saucepan; reserve (keep warm).

Charred leek puree:

  • 1 lb. leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced and thoroughly rinsed
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 3 cups fingerling potatoes
  • half-and-half, warmed
  1. Place leeks in large bowl; drizzle liberally with oil; season with salt; heat large cast-iron skillet over high heat until it begins to smoke; place third of leeks in pan; drizzle with a little more oil; cook until leeks are lightly charred (do not burn or they will taste bitter); place leeks on a plate; repeat with remaining leeks in two more batches.

  2. Place all leeks in a saucepan set over medium-high heat; add enough water to cover; bring to a boil; cook until leeks are completely softened and water has evaporated; remove from heat; reserve.

  3. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil; add spinach; cook until spinach is just wilted (about 1 minute); drain; place spinach in ice-water bath; cool; drain; reserve.

  4. Bring another pot of salted water to a boil; add potatoes; cook until tender (20 to 25 minutes); drain; place potatoes in a blender; add spinach and leeks; blend, adding half-and-half as needed to adjust consistency, until smooth; season with salt; strain through fine chinois into clean bowl; reserve (keep warm).


  • 8 baby leeks, roots attached, cleaned well
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • canola oil (for frying)
  • salt
  • Fleur de sel
  • Meyer lemon zest
  1. Place baby leeks in a bowl; drizzle olive oil over; season with salt; heat sauté pan set over high heat until it begins to smoke; place leeks in pan; drizzle with a little more olive oil; cook until leeks are slightly charred on one side; turn leeks; cook until charred on the other side; remove from heat; place leeks on a platter; reserve.

  2. Heat some canola oil in small saucepan until deep-fry thermometer registers 350°F; fry root end of leeks in oil until crispy; place on a platter; season with salt; reserve (keep warm).

  3. Heat oven to 300°F.

  4. Warm lobster tails in oven; remove from oven; sprinkle with fleur de sel; reserve (keep warm).

  5. To serve, place lobster tail on each plate; place a quenelle of charred leek puree in upper right hand corner; place baby leek on top of each tail; place 2 small pieces bay charcoal toward top of each leek; finely grind a little bay charcoal in a processor until coarsely ground; sprinkle 1 Tbsp. over roots of each leek; spoon shellfish sauce around plate; drizzle with a little bay oil; garnish with zest.

What to drink: Navazos-Niepoort Vino Blanco Andalucia Spain 2010