There’s very little not to like about bisques. Their rich creamy consistency; the depth of flavor from the seafood stock; a little heat coming from the chilies and finally the sweetness of the tarragon and bay leaves. Bisques are generally a flavorsome seafood stock thickened with rice; in this case, the recipe I found used cream instead of rice and so arguably is just a sauce/soup rather than a bisque, but was crazy good anyway. The tortellini were great, but the truffle flavor was lost in the end, so I’ve increased the amount of truffle oil or you could just use none at all (I would go for the former, there’s something about seafood, creamy sauces and truffles that’s just fantastic). This is one of the dishes I’m most proud of… it took like a gazillion techniques to pull off and the tasters were generally very satisfied with the end product. It was a knockout starter.
Serves about 6 as a first course.
For the Bisque:
As many lobster bodies/shells you can get a hold of (no less than 5 lobster tails, but the torso is always preferable because that’s where all the flavor is) equivalent to the shells of about 3 large lobsters.
1/3 cup of olive oil
3 diced shallots
1 celery stick sliced
1 medium carrots chopped
1 garlic clove chopped
1/4 cooking brandy
1/2 bunch of tarragon (one large handful) chopped
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cup of chopped ripe tomatoes
2L of water
1 -2 tsp of dry red chili
2 cups of creme fraiche
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pan, heat the olive oil on a medium high heat, then add the lobster shells and saute until bright red, add the shallots, chilies carrots, garlic, celery and saute until soft 2-3 mins. Add the brandy (feel free to add about 1/4 cup of white wine here as well) and once mostly evaporated (30s to 1min) add the tarragon, tomatoes and the bay leaf and cover the mixture with water. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the mix simmer away for about 45mins. Stain away the solids, making sure your squeeze everything with a wooden spoon to extract as much flavor as you can. Heat over a medium high heat again and allow the mixture to reduce by about half to two thirds, until you’re left with a deeply flavorsome stock (about 2 cups should remain). Add the creme fraiche and heat all the way through and season, your sauce will be ready to serve. Alternatively, it can be served as a soup by adding 1 cup of light cream instead of the 2 creme fraiche.
For the Tortellini filling
250g of fresh raw lobster meat finely chopped
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
1/2 cup of cooking cream + another 1/2 cup of cooking cream
1 egg white
2 tbsp of truffle oil (truffle infused evo will do just fine)
2 tbsp of truffle shavings (can be ignored and replaced with additional truffle oil if you don’t feel the truffle aroma enough)
1-2 tsp of dried chilies
2tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix the breadcumbs with the first 1/2 cup of cream and allow to become homogenous. Mix in the lobster meat and using a wooden spoon stir and grind together to a paste, add and incorporate the egg white in the same way. Place the mix into a food processor, add the seasoning (including chilies) and slowly pour in the second 1/2 cup of cream while the processor is running (same procedure one would use to make a home made mayonnaise). Once the cream has been added and incorporated (no need to work in the processor for ages) remove the paste, and pass it through a sieve (this seems a somewhat useless stage, but in the end, the filling texture will be super-smooth. Add the truffle oil and the chives and stir in using a knife, the consistency should be a nice paste that holds its shape, if you feel it’s too dry, add a touch more cream.
For the pasta
Either buy ready-made fresh pasta sheets or use the recipe below
2 cups of all-purpose flour (add one tablespoon of semolina if available)
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tsp olive oil
Heap the flour on a large dry work surface in a mound and using your hand create a small cavity in the center, like a volcano crater. Add the eggs and the oil to the crater and using your hands, stir the eggs into the flour. It’ll start of feeling like a sticky mess, but don’t lose hope, as you continue to knead the flour and eggs together slowly a nice dough will start taking shape. Don’t be gentle with it, knead it strongly for about 10mins until it becomes a nice consistent dough. Roll into a ball and cover in cling film then leave to rest for about an hour. Once the dough has rested, using a pasta machine, roll out into the thinnest possible setting, making sure to pass the dough through all settings at least once, from largest to smallest. Don’t leave the dough out without cutting and forming for too long, pasta dough dries up notoriously quick. This again, is the video that’s helped me the most with how to make a home made pasta dough. Also, make I hope you find this Tuesday’s Tip of the Week helpful.
Make your tortellini; cut the pasta dough into circles (about 4cm diameter) place some filling in the center (to cover about 60% of the area) and then fold the dough over it like a croissant, pinching the edges to ensure its sealed, use egg wash on the edges to make sure the pasta is sealed. It’s difficult to explain in writing how it’s done, but it’s really simple if you check this video out.
Cook the pasta in heavily salted boiling water, you’ll know the pasta’s cooked when it rises to the top of the water, shouldn’t take more than 3mins, careful not to overcook the pasta, it’ll become rubbery and tough. Remove the tortellini using a slotted spoon, plate them and cover with the bisque generously, garnish with chopped chives and a herb oil. Hope you enjoy it!