Andrea Maunder, locovore, wine expert and pastry chef, is the owner and creative force behind Bacalao, a St. John's restaurant specializing in "nouvelle Newfoundland" cuisine.

In Love with Lobster

You could call rillettes (pronounced Ree-YET) the fancy version of potted meat. It is usually some sort of protein, poached or braised low and slow, in some sort of fat, and then allowed to chill and set up in a ramekin or little jar so it’s spreadable, similar to pâté.  The long, slow cook makes it possible to infuse delicious flavours while bringing out the natural juiciness and flavour of the protein. Because it’s preserved in fat, rillettes can keep, refrigerated, for a couple of weeks.

Lobster season in Newfoundland and Labrador got me to thinking about ways to enjoy lobster, which naturally leads to butter, garlic, citrus and herbs. And since it’s so rich (not to mention expensive), making rillettes is a great way to spread the lobster love, serving more people.

My favourite part of the lobster is the tomalley (or liver) – you know, the green stuff that’s in the body. It’s the most intensely lobster-flavoured part. We’ll be adding that to the rillettes – to infuse maximum sweet lobster flavour.

Rillettes is a delightful first course with a toasted baguette and a little green salad, or arranged in a bowl with crackers or toasted bread. It makes wonderful party fare and a fantastic picnic idea with some Rosé or sparkling wine. Mmmm.

The secret is to boil the lobster just long enough to get the meat to retract from the shell – just a few minutes – then cool it quickly. The real cooking needs to take place in butter – allowing a fantastic transfer of flavours from the lobster to the butter and vice versa. Some helpful tips: peel the garlic and crush it, but try to leave it whole so you can pull it out intact. And use a vegetable peeler to peel long ribbons from the skin of the lemon – again so you can infuse flavour and easily remove it.

Lobster Rillettes Serves 8
2 (1 1/2 lb) lobsters (I prefer male because I don’t care for the texture of roe in rillettes)
1 lb unsalted butter
4 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
A pinch of cayenne pepper or few dashes of hot sauce
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed (not chopped)
Zest of one lemon, cut from fruit using a potato peeler, in long bands
Juice of half a lemon
1 oz Pernod
Salt and pepper to taste


Melt the butter over medium heat. Remove from heat and allow to stand a few moments to let the milk solids settle to the bottom, then pour the butter into another pot, large enough to hold the butter and the lobster meat. Add all the remaining ingredients except the lobster. Return to the stove and keep warm on low. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salting generously. Plunge the lobsters into the boiling water, cover and cook 4 minutes. Remove lobsters and place in bowls of ice water a few minutes to stop the cooking. Remove the meat from the shells, including the tail vein. The meat will be soft. Scoop the tomalley from the body of the lobster and stir into the butter. Chop the lobster meat into 1/3" pieces and add to the butter. Cover and gently simmer on low heat for 10 minutes to infuse the flavours. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper, heat and citrus, remembering that when eating something chilled, the flavours are slightly muted. Let cool in the pot for 5 minutes or so. Pull out and discard herbs, garlic cloves and lemon peel. Then transfer to 6 or 8 dessert ramekins, 125 ml mason jars, or another vessel you like, distributing the chunks of meat evenly. Be sure to poke down the meat so it’s completely submerged under the butter. If, by chance, you don’t have enough butter, simply melt a little more and spoon over the top. Cover or wrap and chill until set. Serve chilled with thinly sliced toasted baguette or unflavoured crackers such as rusks or water biscuits. Is your mouth watering yet?

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