Neal Fraser, Chef-Owner of Grace and BLD in Los AngelesNeal Fraser, the executive chef and co-owner of Grace and BLD restaurants in Los Angeles, invited Epicurious into his kitchen to learn how to make two elegant signature dishes: Cavatelli Pasta with Lobster, Spring Peas, and Mascarpone and Sautéed Turbot with Braised Endive, Celery Root Flan, Black Truffles, and Garlic Nage. Although this food, which the chef categorizes as New American, might sound too "chefy" to make outside of a restaurant, Fraser helped us translate his recipes for the home cook. With Fraser's video demos and the tips below, you'll be turning out restaurant fare in no time.
These recipes are perfect for dinner parties, since many of the steps for both can be done several hours or even a day or two in advance, including cooking the lobsters for the pasta and making the celery root flans and endive to go with the turbot.
The Chef's Secret Frozen Ingredient
When you watch the video demonstration of the lobster cavatelli, you might notice that Fraser uses frozen peas. A lot of chefs, including those like Fraser who are committed to using the freshest ingredients, use frozen peas. The vegetable is frozen at the peak of ripeness and the texture and flavor hold up well to the freezing process so it's actually preferable to use frozen peas if fresh ones aren't in season in your area. (And you don't even have to thaw them before using them in this recipe.)
Use Your Lobster Leftovers
Fraser's original restaurant recipe for cavatelli called for lobster knuckle meat. The knuckles are the small joint attached to the claw and they contain a little nugget of sweet meat -- restaurant kitchens tend to have delicious "leftovers" like this. So if you're serving whole lobsters or a recipe that calls for larger pieces of lobster one night, save the extras -- knuckle meat and other smaller pieces -- to make this dish a day or two later. Watch our video of how to crack a whole lobster to learn to remove the cooked meat from a lobster shell. The knuckles can be opened with a lobster cracker, just like the claws. You can also purchase lobster meat -- if you buy just claw and knuckle meat it will be less expensive than buying tail meat or a combination that includes tail meat. These smaller pieces of lobster are as sweet and delicious as tail meat and will work quite well in this recipe.
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