Eat Ink: Francesco Palmieri’s Lobster Cobb Salad

In this exclusive excerpt from "Eat Ink," learn how Francisco Palmieri, owner/executive chef of The Orange Squirrel in Bloomfield, makes his lobster cobb salad.

Lobster cobb salad by Francesco Palmieri of The Orange Squirrel in Bloomfield.
Photo by Daniel Luke Holton

Francesco Palmieri, Owner/Executive Chef, The Orange Squirrel, Bloomfield

“I’m just in love with the squirrel lifestyle.”—Francesco Palmieri

Lobster Cobb Salad
This dish is currently on the menu at The Orange Squirrel Restaurant.

Serves 2
For Court Bouillon:
4 gallons water
6 lemongrass stalks, bruised and sliced
3 bay leaves
4 ounces whole white peppercorns
1 (6-ounce) piece ginger, peeled and sliced
2 whole heads garlic, unpeeled and sliced in half horizontally
Kosher salt, to taste

1. For Court Bouillon:
In a large pot (6 gallons), add all ingredients and bring to a boil for 15 minutes. Turn off heat, let steep for 10 minutes, and check seasoning. Strain, cool, and divide liquid in half. Half the liquid should be kept in pot to poach the lobster. The other half will be used to cool it. Place 1 gallon in ice cube trays and freeze; refrigerate the remaining gallon in a large bowl.

For Lobster:

4 gallons Court Bouillon, divided
1 whole lobster, about 1 ½ Pounds

2. For Lobster: When ready to cook lobster, bring 2 gallons of Court Bouillon (CB) to a boil. Slowly submerge lobster, head first, into boiling CB. (4 minutes is the restaurant-preferred cook time—meat will be just set and translucent. You may prefer to cook up to 8 minutes.)

After 4 minutes, remove lobster and place into the chilled gallon of CB with the CB ice cubes. (This ensures that you do not wash away the flavor of the CB when cooling off the lobster and stopping the cooking process.) Next, remove tail and slit in half with a large sharp knife, removing the shell and veins. With sharp kitchen shears, remove knuckle meat and carefully remove claw meat—do your best to not damage it. Place all meat into airtight container and reserve in refrigerator.

For Roasted Garlic Purée:
2 whole garlic heads
Kosher salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste
4 ounces blended oil, divided

3. For Roasted Garlic Purée: Preheat oven to 275°F. With sharp serrated knife, slice off top of garlic heads to expose all cloves. Place in foil, season with salt and pepper, drizzle about 1 tablespoon of oil over them, and seal tightly. Roast in oven for 35 minutes or until cloves are golden and tender. Let cool; then squeeze out cloves and pass through a fine strainer into a small bowl. Whisk in remaining oil and emulsify; then place in airtight container and keep refrigerated.

For Deviled Quail Eggs:
1 pint water
1 ounce white vinegar
2 quail eggs
1 pint ice water
Dash lemon juice
½ ounce mayonnaise
¼ ounce Roasted Garlic Puree
Smoked paprika, to taste
Sel gris, to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste

4. For Deviled Quail Eggs: In a small pot, boil water and vinegar, carefully place eggs, and set timer for 4 minutes. Remove eggs and add to ice water. Gently peel off shells and split eggs in half vertically. Remove yolks (reserving egg whites) and pass through a fine strainer into a small mixing bowl. Add lemon juice, mayonnaise, and Roasted Garlic Puree and whip with whisk or small fork; check seasoning and adjust. Place in a small plastic pastry bag (small sandwich bag will also work) and reserve in refrigerator with egg whites. Upon assembly, this product will be piped into reserved egg white cavity.

For Champagne Grain Mustard Vinaigrette:
½ ounce Dijon mustard
½ ounce whole grain mustard
1 ounce champagne vinegar
½ ounce honey
6 ounces blended oil
Kosher salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste

5. For Champagne Grain Mustard Vinaigrette: In a mixing bowl, add mustards, vinegar, and honey. Slowly whisk in oil to emulsify. Check seasoning, adjust if necessary, and place in airtight container. Reserve in refrigerator.

For Buttered Corn Kernels:
2 whole ears of corn on the cob
3 ounces unsalted butter
3 sprigs thyme
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Kosher salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste

6. For Buttered Corn Kernels: On a cutting board, stand corn up and, with a firm grip and a sharp knife, slice off kernels, discarding cob when finished. In a saute pan on low heat, add butter, thyme, and garlic until melted, about 2 minutes. Add corn kernels. Season and cook, stirring, for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat and garlic and thyme sprigs from pan. Let corn cool down, place in airtight container, and refrigerate.

For Pancetta Lardons:
6 (1/4-inch-thick) slices pancetta disks

7. For Pancetta Lardons: Unroll pancetta disks, lay flat on a tray, and place in freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. (This will help ensure even cutting.) With sharp knife, slice 1/4-inch pieces across. Place in saute pan over low heat. As fat starts to melt and render, drain into a metal can. As lardons start to become golden and crispy, about 4 to 6 minutes, remove and place on paper towel–lined plate to cool. Reserve in a dry, cool place.

For Avocado Mousse:
2 avocados, ripe
¼ ounce lemon juice
¼ ounce Roasted Garlic Puree
¼ ounce mayonnaise
Kosher salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste

8. For Avocado Mousse: Remove skin and seed from avocados and squeeze the flesh through a fine strainer. Place in a mixing bowl and whisk in remaining ingredients. Season to taste and place in airtight container; reserve in refrigerator.

To Complete:
12 leaves garden greens (Boston Bibb), cut into 1/4-inch ribbons
Kosher salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste
Sel gris, to taste
Smoked paprika, to taste
¼ cup micro greens (mixed is best)

9. To Complete: In a small bowl, add greens, 3 ounces Pancetta Lardons, 4 ounces Buttered Corn Kernels, and 4 ounces Champagne Grain Mustard Vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper and mix. The following steps should be done twice, once for each plate. Place half of the greens mixture inside a 3-inch round mold and pack down with a spoon. Then top with 1 1/2 ounces of Avocado Mousse and spread evenly. Next, carefully perch half of the lobster tail on mousse and slowly raise mold. Drizzle plate with Vinaigrette and strategically place Deviled Quail Egg, after filling with the deviled yolk mixture. Season claw meat with sel gris and lay across bottom base. Finally, dress with smoked paprika and garnish with micro greens. Serve immediately.

Read more about Eat Ink in our story, Beyond Squid Ink.

Excerpted from Eat Ink Copyright © 2013 by Birk O’Halloran and Daniel Luke Holton and published by F+W Media, Inc. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved. Photos courtesy of Daniel Luke Holton.

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