This lobster tortellini with squid ink pasta is a great dinner party dish - it will certainly wow guests, and although the recipe is quite long, the components can all be made well in advance. Up to step 11 can be made the day before. Just before serving, heat through the sauce, and boil the tortellini for just a few minutes.
The squid ink pasta is tremendously versatile. It doesn't need to be made into tortellini, or covered in the rich velouté. Instead of forming it into shapes, cut the sheets into thick ribbons, and serve simply with a little butter and parmesan.
Squid ink pasta dough Serves: 6
- 1kg live lobster, killed humanely, and boiled for 8 minutes
- 3 tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and diced finely
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 sprig tarragon, finely chopped
- Salt & pepper to taste
For the velouté
- 250g raw shell on prawns, boiled for a few minutes to cook, and then shelled (set aside the prawns to eat for another meal, only the heads & shells are needed to flavour the stock)
- Lobster head and shell, from the filling
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 stick celery, chopped roughly
- 1 carrot, topped and tailed, and chopped roughly
- 5 peppercorns
- 100ml pernod
- 50ml double cream
To make the dough
- In a bowl, mix together the egg yolks, flour, and squid ink with your hands. Try to form into a ball. If you need a little more moisture add the water drop by drop, trying in between each addition. If the dough becomes anything but dry, it will be very difficult to roll later.
- Lightly knead the dough for a few minutes by hand. The dough should be dry enough that you don't need to flour the work-surface. Wrap tightly in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
To make the tortellini filling
- First step is to remove the meat from the lobster. First twist the head away from the body, and - using scissors if needed - separate the tail meat from the shell. Then tear the clawns away from the head. These are easiest to break apart if first hit with a hammer, or the back of a large kitchen knife. Pull out the meat.
- Chop the lobster meat finely, and set the shell aside to make the veloute. Add the finely diced tomatoes, squeeze of lemon juice, and a sprinkle of chopped tarragon together with the lobster meat. Mix, taste and season with salt and pepper. Add a little more lemon juice and tarragon if desired.
To make the velouté sauce
- First make a shellfish stock. Heat a little vegetable oil in a large saucepan until smoking. Add the lobster head and shell, prawn heads and shells, carrot, onion, and celery. Cook, stirring every minute or so, until the shellfish and vegetables are coloured on all sides. Pour in the pernod, allowing it to evaporate off the alcohol for a few minutes. Toss in the peppercorns, and add enough water such that everything is covered. Leave on a gentle simmer for 60 minutes. Strain.
- Taste the strained stock and stir in the double cream. For a more intense flavour, reduce by half to two thirds over a medium heat. This will result in a rich and unctuous sauce. Add a little lemon juice if desired.
Filling the tortellini
- Whilst the stock is simmering you can fill the tortellini. First roll out the pasta dough. Cut the dough into three pieces, and remove 1/3 to work with, keeping the remaining 2/3 wrapped tightly in clingfilm. Pass the dough you are working with through the pasta machine on its thickest setting. Fold into thirds, and then pass through again, repeating this fold-and-roll process three times. This helps to align the gluten in the dough, and you'll notice it becoming much smoother and easier to work with.
- To make the dough finer, gradually change the opening of the pasta machine. Each time you reduce the width pass the pasta sheet through once until the pasta is so fine that you think it might start to tear. This may well be one or two settings away from the finest.
- Flour your work-surface with a little semolina flour. Lay out the past sheet, and using a circular cutter - roughly 8 cm in diameter - cut out the tortellini circles. Spoon a little filling into the centre of each circle. If you work quickly, the dough shouldn't need moistening to seal.
- Fold the little parcel in half to form a crescent and carefully press together the edges so the filling doesn't leak out when it is cooked. Pull the two corners towards you, and press together. To make the parcel very pretty, fold the circular edge back away from you. Lay the tortellini on a baking sheet very well floured with semolina flour - be generous! Repeat with remaining pasta until you have used all the filling.
- To keep, cover with cling film and place in the fridge.
- Warm the veloute sauce in a small pan.
- Toss the tortellini into a large pan of salted boiling water, and cook for 3 minutes. Drain, and divide up. Pour over a little veloute and serve. Garnish with a very little tarragon.