I hate the summer: the heat, the ennui. Labor Day is the weekend I look forward to for months—when I start imagining the first of the cool fall breezes and the first day of school (yes, I was one of those kids). It's my real New Year. As summer takes one last gasp, I finally let myself enjoy the heat, perching at a picnic table full of sandwiches, and I find myself a pool somewhere. There is urgency to Labor Day: grill, tan, sweat. It's now or never.
I wanted to give you the recipe that I will be making for la famille this Labor Day. As some of you read in my post last week, my favorite sandwich this year is the lobster sandwich from Daniel Rose's restaurant Spring in Paris. Since so many of you thought it looked amazing (which it is), I thought I'd try to recreate it in my own kitchen. All it took was some local Florida spiny lobster, fresh citrus, chives, celery, and mayonnaise.
I took my first bite d'homard when I was in cooking school in Paris this summer. We were in the kitchen nine hours a day, six days a week. In fact, I was so exhausted and so overwhelmed with food that I hard ate anything. So when my best friend suggested we trek up towards Montmartre for lobster sandwiches, I figured it was about time I sat down, let someone else do the cooking, and ate.
In this tiny hole of a shop were a few communal tables. We sat down, and out came the lobster sandwiches in all their glory: whole chunks of claw, masses of tail, sweet and succulent. It wore this kind of gossamer robe of mayonnaise and citrus sauce made from fresh oranges, spiked with a crunch of celery, on a white-wheat baguette that was sweet itself. And with it we had goose fat frites with good coarse salt. I think we sat there, just sitting and eating, our own little Labor Day holiday, for two hours.
To my version I add a touch of lime and lemon, and in celebration of summer I serve it with zucchini fries and an heirloom tomato salad. I call these "Summer" Lobster Sandwiches because they are modeled on Spring's, and are a celebration of the season. I know lobster is a luxury, but you work hard—this Labor Day you should reward yourself.
'Summer' Lobster Sandwiches
- 1/4 teaspoon lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/2 teaspoon total of lemon, lime, and orange zests
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1/4 teaspoon snipped chives
- 1 tablespoon finely sliced celery
- 7 ounces lobster meat, cut into very large chunks (about 1 cup total, or the meat from the tail of a 2-pound spiny lobster), steamed and cold
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/4 wheat baguette
- Butter, room temperature
A Note about this Recipe
- I understand lobster prices are down around the country (I found Florida spiny lobsters on sale for $9.99 a pound), and the fish counters at most supermarkets charge nothing to steam your lobster for you. I massacred a lot of sea life in my cooking school
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 2 small zucchini, cut into French fries
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 4 basil leaves, sliced into a fine chiffonade
- 3/4 teaspoon fleur de sel
A Note about this Recipe
- Make these just before you serve them—they will become soggy if you leave them waiting. A great variation that retains its crispiness longer is zucchini chips. Just slice them 1/8-inch thick on a mandoline and follow the same recipe.
- 1 1/2 pounds heirloom tomatoes of assorted colors, sliced
- Olive oil for drizzling
- Fleur de sel for seasoning
A Note on this Recipe
- This is obviously more of a suggestion than a recipe, but it goes so well with the lobster sandwiches, that I wanted to include it. Using fleur de sel adds beauty and texture to the salad.
Preheat the broiler.
In a large bowl, whisk together the citrus juices—which must all be freshly squeezed—the citrus zests, the mayonnaise, chives, and celery. Taste the dressing and season accordingly with salt and pepper, not forgetting that the lobster is slightly salty itself.
Take your steamed lobster tail and cut it into large chunks, about four to six pieces for the whole tail. Leave the claws whole. Gently fold the lobster meat together with the dressing, and set it in the refrigerator.
Cut the wheat baguette in half horizontally almost all the way through to create a hinged sandwich roll. Very lightly butter both sides with soft sweet cream butter. Stick it under the broiler for just a couple of minutes, until it is just lightly golden and a little bit crusty. Most importantly, allow the bread to cool.
When the baguette is back to room temperature, take the lobster salad out of the fridge, and scoop it, brimming, into the bread. Serve it with zucchini frites and an heirloom tomato salad (details follow).
Fill a cast iron skillet halfway up with vegetable oil, and heat it to 350°F.
While the oil is heating, toss the zucchini sticks with the flour in a large baggie.
Fry the zucchini in batches, shaking off any excess flour before slipping them into the oil. They should take about 2 to 4 minutes to become crunchy and golden on the outside, and soft within. If you are making zucchini chips, the cooking time will be lower. Just remove them when they are golden. Drain the fries or the chips on paper towel.
While the zucchini is frying, combine the basil leaves and fleur de sel. Sprinkle it over the zucchini while it is still hot.
Heirloom Tomato Salad with Fleur de Sel
Arrange the rainbow of sliced tomatoes on a platter. Drizzle with the best olive oil you have, and finish with fleur de sel. This would be a fun place to use basil oil, or garlic oil, or even lemon oil.