LOBSTER ELOTE TACOS

recipes + photography CHRISTOPHER BEAUDOIN

So many things remind us of summer—beaches, fireworks and cookouts, just to name a few. We imagine bright flavors in our foods made with the freshest vegetables our great state has to offer. Speaking of great Maine offerings, we can’t forget the lobster. Sought-after around the world, it is a delicacy that we fortunately have usually easy and cheap access to. Today we are going to use our lobster and also take full advantage of another summer crop that we are very proud of: our fresh corn.

I can think of no better way to bring the bright fresh flavors of summer to the table than elote,  or Mexican street corn. Elote is a form of roasted corn on the cob that is often slathered with a mixture of mayo, sour cream, cotija cheese, lime and other spices. It is a simple and truly amazing thing to behold.

We will combine our two stars into a mashup of sorts, the Lobster Elote Taco. Our lobster will come out tender and buttery, thanks to a gentle poaching in butter and tarragon. We will deconstruct the elotes and transform them into a flavorful topping for our poached Lobster. As of late, it’s become trendy to cover elotes with crushed up Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. While this may seem strange and is completely optional, the combination of crunch and heat atop the taco adds another level of depth to the flavors at play.

Below you find all the steps to make everything from scratch, including the tortillas, pickled jalapeños—you get the point. Feel free to buy some of these components in their store-bought form to save some time, but I can assure you they are all worth the effort. Do yourself a favor and make the pickled jalapeños, elote sauce and tortillas a day or two before (you’ll have plenty left over to use in other dishes). If you have someone with a food allergy to lobster, these tacos can also be made with steak, chicken, shrimp or vegetarian. I can attest that they are even great with a grilled classic Maine red hot dog in place of the lobster.

I think you’ll find a new favorite in this taco.

Makes 6 tacos

Pickled tarragon jalapeños
½ cup white vinegar
½ cup water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
5 sprigs fresh tarragon
3 cloves fresh garlic
½ pound fresh jalapeño peppers (roughly 5–6 medium-sized peppers)

Elote sauce
½ cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
2 cloves fresh garlic
½ cup fresh cilantro, stems removed
½ teaspoon ancho chili powder
½ teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
2 teaspoons lime zest (from about 1 lime)
4 teaspoons lime juice (about 2 limes)
½ cup cotija cheese, crumbled

Flour tortillas
300 grams all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for rolling out
8 grams kosher salt
45 grams lard
180 grams ice cold water

Roasted corn
2 ears fresh corn on the cob

Butter poached lobster
3 medium Maine lobsters (about 5 pounds total weight)
Water
White vinegar
Kosher salt
1 stick salted butter
3 sprigs fresh tarragon

Taco assembly
6 (6-inch) flour tortillas (recipe below)
Butter-poached lobster meat (recipe below)
Roasted corn (recipe below)
1 medium tomato, diced
3 green onions, chopped
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Elote sauce (recipe below)
Optional: ½ cup Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, crushed into a fine powder
Lime wedges for serving

Pickled tarragon jalapeños
Combine vinegar, water and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil.

While the mixture is heating up, place the tarragon into a large (24-ounce) canning jar.

Take the 3 garlic cloves and crush them with the back of a chef’s knife. Place them in the jar with the tarragon.

Slice the jalapeños about ⅛ inch thick and place into the jar.

Once the vinegar/water/salt brine is boiling, pour it carefully into the canning jar over the other ingredients.

Take care to make sure all the vegetables are covered in the brine. If not, top off the container with more vinegar.

Close the jar with the lid and allow to cool slightly on the counter for ½ hour.

Place jar into fridge for at least 12 hours before eating. Jalapeños will keep for about 2 weeks.


Flour tortillas
In a food processor, combine the flour and salt.

Add lard and mix in the food processor for about 20 seconds, until lard is distributed through and you’ve formed a pebbly-looking dough.

Turn the food processor on again and slowly pour ice-cold water into the mix, should take around 8–10 seconds to pour.

Process for another 5–10 seconds, to let the dough come together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead the dough until it is no longer sticky.

Separate the dough into 12 equal pieces, about 40 grams each.

Roll the dough into balls, place on a sheet tray and cover for about 20 minutes at room temperature; this will help the dough relax and hydrate properly.

To roll the tortillas, take a ball and flatten it with your hand. Then, using a rolling pin, carefully roll out into thin flat tortillas about 6 inches in diameter. Don’t worry if they are not perfect circles.

Once all tortillas are rolled out, preheat a cast-iron or other heavy-bottomed pan over low-medium heat on the stovetop. If you have an infrared thermometer on hand, we are looking for about 375–400°F.

Place the tortillas into the pan 1 at a time, cooking for about 40 seconds on each side. Once all tortillas are cooked, store in a bread bag or another airtight container.

Use within 4–5 days.

Elote sauce
Combine all ingredients into a high-sided container or a large canning jar that will accommodate an immersion blender. Blend until smooth. Alternatively, you can place the ingredients into a small tabletop blender for the same results.

Store sauce in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


Roasted corn
Remove the stalks and silk from the corn cobs.

Method 1:
Place the oven rack 4–5 inches away from the top broiler.

Turn the broiler on high and keep the oven door cracked so it does not turn off.

Place corn on top rack and turn a ⅓ of a turn every 5 minutes or so, until the corn is charred on all sides.

Method 2:
Preheat a grill to its highest setting.

Place corn on the grill and turn the corn ⅓ of a turn every 3-4 minutes, until charred on all sides.

Once corn is charred, allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Cut kernels free from the cob and set aside for topping the tacos.


Butter-poached lobster
Fill your largest pot with water with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and about 4 tablespoons of white vinegar per gallon of water. (The vinegar will help the lobster meat release from the shell to make the process of removing the meat for poaching easier.) Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil.

Place the lobsters in boiling water for about 3–4 minutes. You may have to cook them in batches depending on the size of your pot.

Remove the lobsters to a sheet pan to cool for about 15 minutes, or until cool enough to handle without burning yourself.

While the lobsters are cooling, place 1 stick of butter in a small/medium saucepan over the lowest heat setting just to melt the butter slowly.

Add the tarragon sprigs to the butter and turn off the heat once melted. Hold aside in the pot for the lobster meat.

Once the lobsters are cool enough to handle, crack them open and remove all the meat into a bowl; discard the shells and carcasses.

Give the lobster meat a rough chop to make all the pieces a uniform size.

Put the pot with the butter and tarragon back over low/medium heat and add the lobster to the mixture.

Poach in the butter for about another 5 minutes, until the lobster is fully cooked.

Take the pot off the heat, remove the tarragon sprigs and set lobster and butter aside for taco assembly.

Taco assembly
Line up all 6 tortillas

Divide the lobster meat among the 6 tortillas.

Top with your desired amount of roasted corn, tomatoes, green onion and cilantro.

Top your tacos with the Elote Sauce; use a squeeze bottle if you have one.

Optional: Sprinkle the crushed Flamin’ Hot Cheetos over the top for some crunch, and add a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Enjoy.

Instagram: christopher_d_beaudoin

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