This happened during a night in the kitchen at Heartland. It was one of those days where the other guys on the line and I would shoot ideas back and forth during service, trying to come up with the best things to make with what the season gave us. That night, we were in the heart of the lobster mushroom growth cycle, where the market gets full and the price drops.
With a walk in cooler so full of the big red mushrooms that we could never cook through them if we did 100 covers a day for the next week, I set about preserving some.
Lobsters taste a little fishy, so I take that into account when cooking with them. From there, lobsters (the crustacean) really like butter, so instead cooking and marinating, or pickling, I decided to cook 20 or so pounds whole, in butter, kind of like you would cook ducks legs in duck fat for confit to preserve them, since the fat solidifies and becomes a sort of hermetic stasis for whatever is underneath it.
I knew the mushrooms would preserve just fine, but what I didn’t expect was that their flavor would transfer to the butter and change it’s color. I talked about the lobster mushroom infused butter last year in another post, and shared a fun use for it via giant stuffed lobster mushrooms.
It was almost a problem. I had lobster mushrooms preserved and still needed to cook them some time soon, but now I had a few gallons of butter that I wanted to use too. In trying to create and use up product, I actually made more work for myself.
My friend Brandon (now executive chef of the Governor’s residence in St. Paul) and I started to brainstorm about how to use the lobster mushroom butter. Eventually the topic of butter sauce came up, since the butter is clarified through cooking, meaning the milk solids are separated from the fat-a crucial technique for making great hollandaise.
By itself, the flavor of the infused butter is mild, but noticeable. We thought we might try layering the flavor of the lobsters by combining the butter with other dried lobsters we had. Bingo.
Brandon and I tag teamed the first batch, with him making the butter sauce, and me whipping up some dried mushrooms into duxelles. Afterwords we combined the two, and voila-one of the most delicious, and creative lobster mushroom recipes I’ve ever tasted was born.
It’s truly a hollandaise like no other.
The combination of layering the flavor using the infused butter and the duxelles is the key. What you end up with is a thick, creamy butter sauce with a wonderful shellfish-mushroom flavor. It’s a great accent to places where you might want such a sauce: on steak, with fish, or even as a dip for french fries or vegetables. It’s great directly out of the whisking bowl with a spoon, or fingers too. Pretty much anything could use some lobster holly.
Lobster Mushroom Hollandaise
I cannot stress enough how important the preliminary whisking is with any warm butter sauce or sabayon. whisking the yolks with the water at first fluffs them up, creating a velvety mouth-feel, as well as stabalizing the sauce to absorb and hold the fat.
If the sauce gets too thick while whisking in the butter, you can thin it by adding a tsp of warm water to help it absorb the fat, then continue to add the butter.
Makes 1 cup, enough to garnish 3-4 plates generously
- 2 egg yolks, whites reserved for making meringue or something later
- 1/2 cup lobster mushroom butter, warmed, but not hot (recipe here)
- 1/8 cup shallot, diced 1/8 inch
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons dried lobster mushroom duxelles (recipe here)
- 2 tbsp warm water
- t chopped fresh tarragon
- Heat the shallot and vinegar in a small sauce pan. Reduce until the pan is nearly dry, then reserve the mixture.
- Heat the tomato paste in a pan, stirring occasionally, until it steams. Allow the paste to cool. (Cooking the paste helps improve the flavor)
- Fill a small pot halfway full of water and heat. Place the egg yolks in a stainless steel bowl and whisk lightly with the water, then put the bowl on top of the simmering pot of water to create a double boiler. Whisk the egg yolks vigorously, until smooth, creamy and very light in color. Gradually start drizzling in the warm butter, continuing to whisk to create a creamy emulsion. Continue to drizzle in the butter and whisk until all the butter has been added. Then stir in the shallot mixture a little bit at a time to add acid to the sauce. Season the sauce to taste with the cayenne and salt. Transfer the sauce to something with high sides, and keep warm.
- Once it’s made, it should sit for a while, and the consistency should tighten up a bit. If needed, adjust the sauce with a little water to loosen it, or by whisking in some more butter to thicken it. Keep the sauce warm in a place with indirect heat until needed.