Thursday, November 23, 2006

One less turkey gets the ax

Regular readers of this blog may recall that we do not cook a turkey on Thanksgiving Day, a fact that seems to cause much surprise and consternation in people when they find out. It's not that I have anything against the turkey per se, just that for whatever reason my family would normally cook a pork roast as the generic holiday meal when I was growing up so any allegiance to the bird was already weakened by the time I was able to cook for myself.

Several years ago when my wife was pregnant with Baby Exile we decided that the last thing that we wanted to do was hit the road to see either my family or hers, so instead we stayed home for our very first Thanksgiving together and have done so for every year since then, making it our first real holiday that we celebrate as a family ourselves. Perhaps to celebrate a brand new tradition I chose to make baked stuffed lobster instead of a turkey, and now I can't imagine having Thanksgiving dinner without it.

Last year we invited my best friend and his girlfriend over for the holiday meal -- we made the stuffed lobster, mussels steamed in coconut milk, and other appetizer-type things, and they bought a goose and a couple of pies. This year my friend roasted some game hens and his girlfriend brought not only a delicious apple pie but some sesame and soy brussel sprouts that even my wife ate (and she doesn't like anything green!).

I had a moment of panic when my wife informed me that there had been a run on live lobsters at all of the local seafood shops yesterday evening and that all she could get was fresh lobster meat. The shells and claws being an important part of both the preparation and the presentation, I scrambled to think of what I could do to keep the meal from looking like a glorified side dish when I remembered that my daughter had a sand mold in the shape of a lobster. A run through the dishwasher later and we were in business! I pressed the lobster stuffing mixture into the mold and turned out the miniature "lobsters" on a cookie sheet, baking them until golden brown and then serving them with claw meat that I had reserved for garnish.

Baby Exile was thoroughly amused by my using one of her beach toys as a kitchen implement. She also helped make the cornbread for the stuffing, the recipe for which we got from Cooking for Engineers, which is my favorite food website hands down.

Baked "Stuffed" Lobster

1 1/2 lb lobster meat, chopped into chunks (reserve claw meat)
1 pan cornbread, crumbled
1 link chorizo or other spicy pork sausage
4 ribs celery, chopped fine
2 medium white onions, chopped fine
2 Tb salted butter
Salt, pepper, and Frank's Red Hot to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Chop sausage into fine chunks and brown in skillet. Remove sausage, add butter and saute celery and onion for 3-5 minutes or until onion becomes translucent and celery begins to soften. Combine sausage, celery, and onion with crumbled cornbread and lobster meat; add salt, pepper, and Red Hot to taste.

Press mixture into lobster-shaped sand mold and turn out onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Serve by adding a pat of butter to each "lobster" and garnishing with claw meat. Feeds 4 comfortably.

Happy Thanksgiving!

1 comment:

Miss Rachel said...

I'm a vegetarian, but I absolutely LOVE this story about using the sand mold to cook with - very creative and just cool. Happy Thanksgiving one day late.