Sunday, December 4, 2011

Buffalo surf and turf

My wife came upon a great deal at Safeway this week: $5 frozen lobster tails! Yeah sure, live lobster is better, but you can't argue with $5. Our friend also happened to be at the San Francisco Ferry Building and picked up a half pound of buffalo tenderloin. Having some free time today, I put them together for a classic surf and turf. A shot of rich lobster soup accompanied the meal.

Lobster and buffalo lend themselves wonderfully to sous vide cooking. The slow cooking gives the lean buffalo a wonderful texture without fear of turning it into leather. Also, butter poaching the lobster using a temperature controller really infuses the butter flavor into the lobster.

To get the timing right, I started with the buffalo tenderloin. When the buffalo was done cooking, I transferred the bag and the water to a separate container to keep warm while I made the lobster and soup.

For the lobster, I followed Thomas Keller's recipe of poaching the tails in beurre monté. Buerre monté is an emulsion of butter and water, whisked together below 180° F. It's very easy to make: just start with some water water at low heat, and slowly whisk in pieces of butter.

Keller's recipe calls for creating an entire bath of buerre monté and lowering the lobster tails directly into the bath. In order to save butter, I put the tails into a zip-lock bag and poured the buerre monté into the bag. I ended up using about 1 stick of butter for this. The nice thing is, when you're done, you can reuse the butter to flavor anything.

The soup was kind of an afterthought, but it turned out to be a nice complement to the dish. It was very rich and flavorful due to the lobster shells. I wish I had some celery or potato to add substance, but I worked with what was available in the kitchen at the time. Also, a nice variation could be to use white truffle oil instead of extra virgin olive oil to finish.

Buffalo tenderloin steak
Buffalo tenderloin
salt, pepper, to taste

1. Salt and pepper the tenderloin, vacuum pack.
2. Cook for 1 hour (or as needed) at 130°F.
3. Grill on high heat, about 1 min per side.

Butter poached lobster tails
Lobster tail meat

1. Make buerre monté by whisking small pieces of butter into warm water. Dilute with more water until you have a 75:25 mixture of butter to water.
2. Place lobster tails and burre monté into a zip-lock bag and seal.
3. Cook for 15 min at 139°F.

Lobster soup
Lobster shells
bay leaf
heavy cream
extra virgin olive oil

1. Saute lobster shells until they are red
2. Add onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaf. Add water until barely covered.
3. Simmer for one hour.
4. Reduce in half, add heavy cream.
5. Garnish with extra virgin olive oil and black pepper.