Lobster Risotto


You know you’re working class when it takes you to your fifties to try lobster for the first time!

I’ve been itching to try this crustacean of the privileged for donkeys’ it always seemed such a hike for what it was. So in my local Lidl I saw a whole frozen cooked lobster going for £4.99. Bargain! Or so I thought.   Well, I say bargain because the very same lobster is being sold at Tesco for £8. I just had to have it and sample it’s renowned sweetness. I’m still a bit miffed at the price as lobster especially in these waters is more prolific than ever due to the shrinking cod stocks as cod feed on lickle baby lobsters. Show me a poor lobster catcher and I’ll show you a happy Evertonian.

Anyway, I defrosted the lobster which comes in a sleeve surrounded by ice. I intended to use, as a good fabfoodblog bloke that I am, everything from the lobster and that included the ice, now water, that surrounded it to use as part of a stock to make the risotto.

So I got the lobster on the chopping board and removed the claws and took out the claw meat (you must have seen this being done!) and cut the rest of the lobster in half to remove the tail meat. Bleeding Heck! There’s not much there! It must work out around £70 a kilo for the meat.

I put the meat in the fridge for later. I made a stock with the shell of the lobster by sautéing half a onion and a clove of garlic and a stick of celery and a carrot in butter and then adding the lobster shells in a sauce pan. The classic “bisque” also has tomato purée which I added but as I had no brandy (or even whiskey, hard times indeed) I left that out. I added a pinch of cayenne pepper and covered it in the water saved from the lobster sleeve. I reduced this down on a low heat for an hour to extract as much flavour from the lobster shell as I could.

01  I made the risotto in the usual way, You know how to by now, using the lobster stock. When it was ready I sautéed the lobster meat in some butter along with some cockles I had in a jar (just to up the meat content) and added some chives. I would have used tarragon if I could but my crop failed this year. A scrape or two of parmesan and a twist of sea salt finished the dish.

Verdict. Utterly Loverly! We both loved it and I suppose at around £2.80 each was ok for a starter. For £5.60 I could feed an army though and that’s my problem with lobster. I’ve had it now and I’ll leave it at that. Roast Duck for tea tomorrow. There’s another dish of diminishing returns!

à bientôt


Pimping your Food – Onion Stylee!

This is going to be a pretty short post because it’s not really about a whole plate of food. It’s about how to take a simple family classic and give it a simple tweak that will elevate it to a whole new level.

So, the simple dish of the day is… SAUSAGES & MASH!

Doesn’t get much easier than that. You can start with the basics and mess around to your hearts content, but everyone who has even basic kitchen skills should be able to put together some sausages and mashed potato so I won’t be telling you how to do either of them…

Well, all right, I will make a few suggestions…

I always roast my sausages in the oven, turning a couple of times… it takes about 30 mins and gives a nice all round ‘cook’.

As for mash, I rarely have it plain. There are just to many ways to sex it up. You’ll see from the pictures that I actually threw a few carrots into mine, cooked at the same time as the potatoes and mashed together too. Easy and more colourful… and, of course more tasty.

You can throw a handful of peeled garlic cloves into the potatoes as they cook and mash them all up together to get a really subtle flavour. Alternatively, at the mashing stage add mustard, or creamed horseradish, or harissa paste, or smoked paprika, or marmalade, or … well you get the idea.

But to get to the real point of this blog I want to introduce you to a little bit of classical French cooking. If you were a ‘saucier’, this gem would be a key piece of your arsenal. Surprisingly though, it is a rarely heard of sauce. I should point out too that I am going to be showing you a bit of a cheats version rather than the full hit ‘Masterchef’ one.

The sauce you are going to be making replaces the key missing element from the S&M which, as we all know, would normally be ONION GRAVY! (And fear not, I still love gravy and will continue you to use it as part of my S&M routine in years to come)

“Get on with it!” I hear you clamouring.

You are going to now discover how to make a SAUCE SOUBISE.

Already, it sounds a bit posh… perfect for dinner party oneupmanship etc.

A Sauce Soubise is basically where you combine a classic bechamel sauce with a fine onion puree… and that would be the proper way to do it… but most of us don’t have the time to be passing ingredients through fine sieves etc which is what you have to do if you are going down the ‘Masterchef’ route.

This is how you make a simplified version… but you can now call it “Sauce Soubise au Paysanne” and still keep ahead of your poncey mates!

Get three large onions and chop them coarsely.

Add them to a pan with a large knob of butter ( and I do mean large… 1/3 of a standard 250g block).


Now all you are going to do is sweat them down for 30 mins on a low heat. Stir them regularly so they don’t brown up… you want to try and keep them pale in colour.


Next, add a heaped tablespoon of flour and stir it around in the pan until it soaks up all the butter and onion juices.

Then add about a pint of vegetable stock and stir well so that it combines thoroughly with the onions and flour mix. Raise the heat slightly and get the pan going on a rolling simmer. This will let the liquid reduce slightly and start to thicken.

Add some salt and white pepper (if you have it – black is fine too).

After about ten mins, get your electric hand blender (C’mon… you HAVE to have one of these in the kitchen!) and blitz the mixture until the you have made it into as fine a puree as you can.

Finally, add about 300ml of single cream and stir thoroughly until everything has warmed through.


And that’s it… it really is a simple few steps and creates a marvellously rich and more’ish sauce. All the elements of an onion gravy with enough sophistication to satisfy the most pretentious of guests and… it really is bloody gorgeous. I first had this in a swanky restaurant and was in awe of how lovely it was… and then when I found out that it was so simple to make this basic version at home… HALLELUJAH!!


Anyway, hope you enjoy… and if you want to go full out for cheffy marks, try the true classical version… but this one will do me just fine for the moment.