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Saffron Lasagnetta with Lobster Sauce



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The Secret Is in the Saffron
The New York Times, June 12, 2002

Mark Militello, written with Florence Fabricant

“In Italy, I've been in restaurants where they make simple, free-form lasagnas.
They cook a couple of sheets of fresh pasta and layer them with a simple filling, sometimes no more than a few spoons of pesto or tomato sauce and a dusting of cheese. The pasta is usually a little crumpled, very informal.
I love that kind of dish, and I've adapted it for my restaurant. Mine is not as
simple because it has a lobster sauce, and I use pasta with saffron and some-
times with herbs in the dough. But the idea is the same.
The sauce is made by reducing fish or lobster stock that has been enriched with lobster shells, tomato, garlic and roasted chilies. I use strips of roasted poblanos, which are relatively mild but they vary in spiciness. You can adjust the amount
of chili to taste. I add fresh corn, black beans and lobster meat to it, season it
with fresh lime juice and mellow it with butter. In Florida I use our local spiny
lobsters, but small Maine lobsters would be good, too.
It's very easy to do all this in a restaurant kitchen, but I can understand someone wanting to simplify it a bit to make at home.
First of all, you do not have to make the pasta. If you don't use homemade pasta,
it will not be flavored with saffron, so you can add saffron to the sauce instead. I would not recommend purchasing ready-made fresh lasagna sheets because they
can be too thick. Instead, I'd substitute broad fresh pappardelle noodles. The effect will be pretty much the same. And if you do not want to cook black beans from scratch, canned beans will be fine.
Once you've cooked the pasta, the lasagnetta has to be served right away. But you can make it all in advance, up to adding the lime juice and lobster meat. Just set
the sauce aside or even refrigerate it and the lobster meat separately until shortly before you're ready to finish the cooking.
The end result reminds me of when I was growing up and I would watch my grandmother hand-rolling pasta for 40 people. My lasagnetta is a marriage
of Italy and South Florida that doesn't taste Italian at all.”

Mark Militello is the chef and owner of
Mark's Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.


Saffron Lasagnetta with Lobster Sauce

Time: 1 hour
Yield: 6 servings

1 poblano chili
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 1-pound lobsters, uncooked, cut up
3 cups lobster or fish stock
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, optional
1 clove garlic, minced
Kernels stripped from 1 ear yellow corn
1/3 cup cooked black beans
2 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and puréed
Juice of 3 limes
6 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves,
plus 6 sprigs cilantro for garnish
12 sheets saffron pasta or 12 ounces
pappardelle noodles.

1. Roast chili over open flame or under broiler until softened and blackened. Scrape off skin. Core, seed and cut in slivers. Set aside.
2. In 12-inch sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Add lobster claws, and cook over high heat about 2 minutes, turning once. Remove. Add tail pieces and cook over high heat about 2 minutes, turning once. Remove. Add knuckles, cook one minute and remove. Add lobster bodies, cook two minutes and
add stock. Bring to a simmer and cook 10 minutes.
3. While bodies are cooking, remove meat from claws, tails and knuckles.
It will not be fully cooked. Dice lobster meat and set aside.
4. When bodies are cooked, remove and discard them. Strain lobster stock through a very fine strainer or a coffee filter. If not using homemade
saffron pasta, add saffron and allow to steep several minutes. Mean-
while, wash and dry pan and return it to stove over medium heat. Add
3 tablespoons olive oil.
5. Add garlic and one or more tablespoons slivered chili, to taste, and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds. Add corn and beans, and cook one minute. Add tomatoes, cook another 30 seconds, then add lobster stock. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened and reduced to about 2 cups. Turn heat to very
low. Stir in lime juice and add lobster pieces to pan. Simmer 2 minutes. Whisk in butter about a tablespoon at a time. Check seasoning. Scatter
with cilantro and keep warm over very low heat.
6. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. If using lasagna, cook sheets about
30 seconds, drain, rinse, and place on paper towel. Brush with remaining tablespoon oil to prevent sticking. With pappardelle, cook about 3 minutes, drain and toss with remaining oil.
7. To serve, place a sheet of pasta or equal portions of pappardelle on each
of 6 warm plates, reserving about 12 strands of pappardelle. Spoon lobster
sauce on top of pasta. Cover with another sheet of pasta or top with
reserved pappardelle. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and serve.


Saffron Pasta

Time: 45 minutes, plus 45 minutes' resting
Yield: 6 servings.

1 tablespoon dry white wine
 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus flour for dusting
Salt to taste

1. Heat wine to a boil in a small saucepan, add saffron, and remove from heat. When cool, whisk in eggs.
2. Place flour on work surface, and salt to taste. Make well in center. Add
egg mixture, and gradually work flour into center, adding a little water if
mixture is dry, and kneading once ingredients are incorporated to make
a firm, smooth dough. Dough can be made in food processor. Cover
and let rest for 45 minutes.
3. Use pasta machine to roll pasta gradually to finest setting. Cut pasta
sheets in 12-inch lengths (each about 6-inches wide), then cut each in
half. Place pasta on lightly floured parchment paper, and cover with a
towel until ready to cook.
 Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company. Used with permission.

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