Carole Peck, Chef/Owner
8 sprigs fresh thyme
8 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
12 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 lemons, cut in half
4 1 1/2 pound live Maine lobsters
Handful of coarse salt
2 1/2 pounds dried penne
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups provolone cheese (imported, grated)
1 pound fresh spinach, (washed, dried, chopped)
3 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon truffle oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Optional: 1 to 2 medium black or white truffles,
Good News Cafe
The Buffet Book * Ici La Press
(Available through your local book store or www.icilapress.com)
Carole Peck is revered as a chef, restaurateur, caterer and
cooking teacher. When unavoidable cooking for a crowd turns
festive occasions into dreaded nightmares, turn to Ms. Peck’s
cookbook, The Buffet Book. Filled with elegant, seasonal recipes
for brunches with ten to dinners for 50, The Buffet Book will
soon be one of your favorite tomes. For your own copy of Carole
Peck’s The Buffet Book, visit your local book shop or
www.icilapress.com. For reservations at the esteemed Good News Cafe,
phone (203) 266-4663.
Baked Penne Pasta with Lobster and Spinach
To cook the lobster, fill an 8- to 10-quart pot three-fourths full with water. Add the thyme, parsley, peppercorns and bay leaf. Squeeze in the juice of the lemons, then drop them in the pot. Cover and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the
lobsters and cook 12 to 15 minutes. Drain the lobsters in a
colander, cover with ice and let cool.
When the lobster is cool enough to handle, pull the tail from the body and remove the claws. Discard the body, or reserve for use in a sauce or stock. Cut the shell from the tail using a knife or scissors and remove the meat. With the blunt end of a knife, chop off the tips of the claws as close to the ends as possible (this
will help release the meat from the claws). Crack the claws in the center, break open and carefully remove the claw meat without breaking apart. Meat from the larger claws will have a piece of cartilage in it; this can be pulled out from the area where the claw fingers meet. Cut the tail meat into 1/2” slices. Leave the claws whole to use as a garnish. Set the lobster meat aside until ready to assemble the pasta dish.
To cook the pasta, fill a 6- to 8-quart pot with water, add salt, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the penne and stir. Cook the pasta for approximately 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente.
Pour into a colander to drain. Do not rinse the pasta; just toss it to remove any excess water. Sprinkle the oil over the pasta and toss with a large chef’s fork. Pour the pasta onto a sheet tray or shallow dish to cool (if it looks too sticky, sprinklesome more oil on at this point). Let the pasta cool to room temperature. (Pasta that has been cooked until al dente, coated with oil and cooled can be
kept in a covered plastic container in the refrigerator for up to three days without becoming mushy. Reheated, the pasta will be very close to freshly cooked pasta.
When the pasta is cool, preheat oven to 425 F.
Toss the cooled pasta in a bowl with the Parmesan and provolone cheese, spinach, heavy cream and lobster meat (except claws). Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large round, oval or oblong baking dish and bake for approximately 25 minutes, until bubbling hot. Garnish with the lobster claws and truffle slivers.
Serve 10 as part of a buffet. Note: This dish, without the heavy cream, can be assembled eight hours ahead. Thirty minutes before serving, pour in the heavy cream and bake as above.