Lobster Cakes and a Bacon Wrapped, Lobster Stuffed Turkey? (California Spiny Lobster, part 1):
It's no secret that one my absolute favorite ways to eat lobster is in a lobster cake--a west coast cousin of the crab cake. They're a delicious, complete meal that's good anytime of the day on any menu. I like to fry up a large batch, then immediately vacseal and freeze them. The frozen cakes can be popped into a toaster oven at work and then enjoyed far from the sea.
Incidentally, the lobster cake recipe makes a terrific turkey stuffing. I tried it for the first time in 2015, and so, the lobster stuffed turkey was born. That same year, I went over to a friend's who had made a bacon wrapped turkey. It was delicious, and I promised myself to combine them and unleash a bacon wrapped, lobster stuffed turkey.
So, this year, the opportunity presented itself. Behold:
In this post I'll present the recipe for the lobster cakes, and then the recipe for the turkey since the turkey stuffing is basically a lobster cake with extra celery.
SPINY LOBSTER CAKES
Meat from 2 or 3 spiny lobster tails, chopped (but not ground), preferably raw, or equivalent amount of cooked meat from body and head
1 cup finely minced onion
1 cup finely minced green pepper
½ cup finely minced carrot
1 tsp minced garlic
4 tbs butter
1/3 cup finely minced parsley
2 tbs Old Bay
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp dried mustard
½ tsp chili powder
1 – 2 cups panko bread crumbs
tartar sauce or Thai sweet chili sauce to eat the cakes with
Olive oil to fry the cakes
[pictured here are spiny lobster cakes with vension stew]
Parboil tail for 3 minutes, no longer. Rinse immediately in cold water until cool enough to handle. Use poultry shears to cut the shell lengthwise and then pull out the meat. The reason for parboiling is so the meat will separate from the shell, but still be raw inside, which will make a moister more flavorful cake. Use it or immediately refrigerate. Chop the meat into very small pieces. Not good to use food processor for the meat, the chunks need to be big enough to taste or the cakes will seem like they don’t have enough lobster in them. I use a food processor on the veggies though. Body meat can of course be used instead of tail meat, but it is more work to pick the meat out of the body and we only do this with very large lobsters after we have fully cooked the body with steam.
Heat the butter in a skillet, medium high heat. Add the onion, carrot, garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the green pepper and cook for another 5 mins until all veggies are fully cooked. Remove from heat. Once it has cooled a bit, add eggs, minced parsley, spices. Stir it all together. I don’t add the lobster and panko unless I am ready to cook right away; you definitely don't want a big bowl of raw lobster and eggs sitting out on your counter spoiling.
When ready to cook the cakes, add lobster meat. Stir it in. Add panko. Start slowly with the panko and stir as you go, using no more than necessary. Cakes should be very moist, only just dry enough that you can form them from the mixture.
Coat the bottom of skillet with olive oil on medium heat. Form the mixture into cakes about 2” wide and 3/8” thick. Drop them in the pan. Fry until golden on each side, usually about 4-7 minutes per side.
Serve with tartar sauce (we make ours from mayo, chopped capers, splash pickled caper juice, pinch of wasabi and lemon) and/or Thai Sweet Chili sauce.
BACON WRAPPED LOBSTER STUFFED TURKEY
Turkey (better if it is brined)
1/4 cup butter
handful of chopped fresh turkey herbs like thyme, rosemary, parsely, black pepper, etc, as well as some salt
package of bacon
3 or 4 cups of uncooked lobster stuffing (lobster cake recipe with a few modifications)
A few stalks of celery, some carrots, onion, and potatoes
To make the turkey stuffing, just follow the above lobster cake recipe, but add less Old Bay, only one egg, 2 cups finely chopped celery. Fry the celery along with the onions and carrots. If the stuffing is too dry, moisten it with chicken stock. Again, as before, this raw stuffing needs to either live in the fridge for no more than several hours or go right into the bird and into the oven.
Let's prep the turkey next. Start with a fully thawed turkey, and remove the neck and giblets from the cavity if present. I rinse the turkey in cold water, cross contamination be damned. I like to use those for gravy. Next,we're going to use the butter and herbs to season the turkey. Stir the fresh herbs into the butter. Separate the skin from the meat, starting at the neck opening, working your fingers in and peeling up the skin. You don't need to totally remove the skin, just separate enough from the breast and thighs that you can rub the herb butter into the space between the skin and meat. Tuck the skin back around the bird when you're finished.
Now, it's time to stuff the turkey. Using a spoon or fingers, pack the lobster stuffing into the turkey. It may help to pack from both ends. Once the turkey is stuffed, we'll get to work on the bacon wrapping. Start with the legs. Coil a bacon strip around each leg, starting at the bottom. Next, do the breast with a basket weave. Lay the first strip down the middle, starting at the neck hole, the lay one across. Add two more paralell to the neck and tuck their ends under the sideways strip. Continue weaving more bacon on until your bird is covered in bacon jacket. Small stray pieces can be laid into the crannies, and when it's all done, tie the legs together and put it in a roasting dish. Pack celery, carrots, onion and potatoes in around it.
Preheat the oven to 450. Put the bird in the 450F oven for 30 minutes. The bacon should be crisping and browning by this point. Now, remove the turkey and cover tightly with foil. Reduce heat to 370F in the oven and put the turkey back in. It's cooked when the stuffing temp reaches 160F. You won't need to baste your turkey; the herb butter and bacon plus foil covering will keep it moist, and if you either brined your turkey or bought one already brined, the meat will be that much better.
When I made this one, it didn't have have a proper baking dish wth a rack, so my turkey just cooked and stewed in its own bacony juices. What's notable is that my turkey cooked really, really fast--by weight it should have been 5 or 6 hours, but when I checked the temp after 5 hours, the internal stuffing temp was way over 220F (higher than my meat thermometer would register!). The good news is that when served, the meat was still tender and falling off the bone moist...