A New Season
I may have waited until the very last weekend of the summer to have my first lobster roll, but now that I had, I wasn’t letting it scuttle away just yet. I decided to try a recipe from the 1930s for Lobster Havanaise, a cross between a Thermidor and Newburg but with rum instead of brandy. The rum is added off heat just before serving so the flavor is very pronounced. I started at Fish Tales in Brooklyn since they’re always helpful and let me take complimentary limes, even on a 1/4 pound of salmon. I almost left empty handed when I realized I would need at least two Maine lobsters to make up for the 2 pounder called for in the recipe. They pointed me instead to the Brazilian rock lobsters right for Caribbean cooking. With no claws, rock lobsters carry all their meat in the tail (no kidding, and I thought the only Cuban element was the rum). Though they’re not as sweet as the Maine variety, they’re in season from the end of the summer through winter, so they’re is plenty of time to play with.
Adapted from Cuban Cookery by Blanche Z. De Baralt published in 1931. De Baralt specifies Bacardi rum in many of her recipes. It’s better for a weekend brunch than a 9-5 lunch break, unless you work in 1957.
1-1 1/2 lbs rock lobster tails
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 tablespoon salt
Pinch of white pepper and paprika
1 cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks, well beaten
2 tablespoons Sherry
1-2 tablespoons dark rum to taste
In a large part of boiling water, cook the lobster tails covered for 12 minutes. Pull out with tongs and set aside until cool enough to handle. Cut down middle of tail, and remove the meat from the tails, discarding the bodies, and cut it into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.
In medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter then add the flour. Stir until the foam subsides without browning, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the cream and continue to cook, about five minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt, pepper and paprika. Whisk in the Sherry and the yolks in a steady stream, whisking constantly, Continue to cook over low heat until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes.* Adjust seasoning to taste. Add the rum just before serving.
Makes 4 servings.
*Please note that the egg yolks are added at the very end and only cooked for a few minutes. I found similar recipes that recommend cooking until the sauce registers 160 degrees on deep-fat thermometer if that is a concern.