Recipe: Baked Lobster Tails with Broccolini and Cheddar Cheese Polenta

Lobster Tail with Polenta and Broccolini

Serves: 2-4

Prep. time: 10-20 minutes

Cooking time: Approx. 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Ingredients

For the lobster tails:

  • Salted butter
  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • 2-4 lobster tails, cleaned
  • ½ – 1 package (2-4 servings) instant polenta
  • 1-2 bunches broccolini, stems cleaned and ends removed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Chicken stock
  • 4-6 strips of bacon
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • 1-2 bunches green onion/scallions
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon juice
  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Sharp cheddar cheese (Cracker Barrel Vermont White Cheddar is lovely), shredded
  • Heavy cream/milk

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400*F. Steam or parboil the broccolini to get it a little tender, then set aside. Measure out the liquid for the polenta (I usually use all chicken stock or half chicken stock and half water instead of all water—chicken stock adds flavor) and pour into a large pot and start to heat it. Cook the bacon strips in a nonstick pan until crispy, then remove them to drain on paper towels and reserve a few tablespoons of the bacon fat. Cut a slit down the underside or back of the lobster tails to expose the meat (cut a chunk of shell out to expose more meat, if desired). Melt salted butter for the lobster tails, blend in the seasoning, and drizzle onto the meat of the lobster tails. Place the tails, uncut shell side down, on a piece of foil, wrap the foil around them, place them on a baking sheet, then place in the oven. Cook for 10-20 minutes, until the meat is white and tender. While the lobster is cooking, heat up the reserved bacon fat with a little butter and olive oil over medium heat, then add the green onion and broccolini and season with salt and pepper—cook until tender, then keep warm over low heat. Instant polenta generally takes 3-5 minutes to cook, so start to cook this when the lobster is just about finished. Pour the polenta into the boiling chicken stock (or water) and cook according to package instructions. When done, reduce the heat to medium-low, slowly stir in the shredded cheddar, add a splash of milk or heavy cream and a chunk of salted butter, and season (garlic powder, salt, and pepper) to taste. Keep warm over low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. When the lobster is done, remove it from the oven and unwrap it. Carefully remove the flesh from the shell and plate it atop the creamy polenta and tender broccolini on a plate or in a large, wide bowl.

Cook’s Commentary

This is an easy to make meal that feels like a dish from a fancy downtown restaurant. Lobster has this sort of savory-sweetness that is much more delicate than the flavors of shrimp and other shell-fish, and cooking it in melted butter and seasoning lightly flavors it. Polenta is delicious on its own, but adding cheese to it brings it up to a whole different level and turns it into the ultimate comfort food. Broccolini is like slimmer, dainty broccoli and combined with the sharp, oniony taste of the scallions, it adds much-needed color and lightness to this dish. This dish is very easy and quick to make and will impress anyone from a significant other to a guest from out-of town.

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Recipe: Cheddar Biscuits

Ingredients

Biscuits

  • 2 1/2 cups Bisquick
  • 4 tbsp. cold, unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sharp (yellow) cheddar cheese, shredded*
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • Dash of salt

*Better/higher quality cheese will yield better results. Sharp cheddars have more flavor, and full fat is also better.

Butter mixture for biscuit tops

  • 3 tbsp. salted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp. dried parsley flakes
  • Dash of paprika

Directions

Preheat oven to 400*F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet (with Pam or butter) or line the cookie sheet with parchment paper, then set aside. In a medium bowl, add together Bisquick and butter and use a pastry cutter (or fork) to cut the butter into the Bisquick—the butter should be broken up into pea-sized chunks through the Bisquick. Add the shredded cheese, milk, garlic powder, and dash of salt and gently mix together by hand—don’t over mix, because it will make the biscuits tough. Drop 1/4 cup portions of the dough onto the cookie sheet, being sure to keep each biscuit a few inches apart so they don’t expand into each other while baking. Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until cooked through and lightly golden brown. While the biscuits are baking, stir together the warm, melted butter with parsley flakes, garlic powder, and a dash of paprika. Brush the butter mixture onto the tops of the fresh-out-of-the-oven biscuits, and sprinkle with just a bit of salt, if necessary.

Yields: 1 dozen

Total cooking time: Approx. 20 minutes

Cheddar Biscuits

Cook’s Comments

When I was a kid, Red Lobster was a near-weekly dinner staple (along with Olive Garden and Max & Erma’s—clearly, we dined high class in small town 1990s Indiana). I loved getting a big ol’ batch of popcorn shrimp with a baked potato (I’d scrape all of the salt off the side of the potato, and let the butter from the potato pool on my plate so I could dip the shrimp into it); however, it was those fluffy, cheesy, garlicky Cheddar Bay Biscuits that really made my night. This recipe I shared here is pretty spot on and it’s very easy to make. Do yourself a favor and go whole hog on this—get a good, sharp cheddar cheese (I am actually quite fond of Cracker Barrel brand) and don’t try to cut calories with margarine or skim milk—your taste buds will thank you.

These biscuits are fluffy on the inside, slightly crunchy on the outside, and absolutely perfect fresh out of the oven, right after the luscious melted butter mixture has been brushed on (in fact, I’d argue that the butter on top is what actually really makes these shine).