Saffron Aioli Oil Lobster with Creamy Basil Pasta

I’ve been reading all summer about the bountiful harvest of Maine lobsters- and it’s been killing me. Since I’ve been on the road so much, I haven’t had the chance to get my hands on any!!! Finally….Finally! I had the time and logistics to make a purchase.

Since last summer I’ve been hankering for a lobster roll. One of the magazines around here did a story on the best lobster rolls in NYC and it’s been on my mind ever since. Sure- we can get lobsters all year round- but it, well…. just didn’t seem right to eat a lobster roll without leaves on the trees.

So on Saturday I was in the neighborhood of my favorite fish monger and for cheap, chose me a beauty, and lugged him home.
But the crazy thing is that when I finally got home I didn’t want a lobster roll- I wanted something schmancier. Not sure why exactly, I guess because I thought this lobster was just so beautiful I wanted to do him justice. I shouldn’t get like that, I mean, I’ve steamed and eaten a boatload of lobster in my days- maybe because it was just the two of us?
I steamed him up the night before and let the whole thing chill overnight. Meanwhile I mulled over my options.
Lobster is a rich meat and needs a substantial sauce to go with it. The classic melted butter is case in point. I thought about making a handmade mayonnaise which I could make tangy and ethereal, almost like a sabayon- and that lead me to aioli- which lead me to an oil, rather than a mayonnaise.

I mashed up a clove of garlic and crushed in a healthy pinch of saffron, then drizzled in just a small bit of olive oil and made a gorgeous orange-y yellow paste. Then I added a bit more oil, and a pinch of salt, and let it rest a bit to mellow.
To accompany the earthy and low tone lobster, I made a fine linguini, tossed in some fresh chopped basil, a healthy grind of black pepper and a dollop of mascarpone. A little bit of pasta water added in spoon by spoon was all it needed to make a creamy sauce. It had the strength to partner with the lobster and the basil added the top note of freshness that the plate needed.

Can I tell you what? This-dish-is-DEEEEELICIOUS! The kind of delicious that you want to bang on neighbor’s doors and make them take a bite. The kind of delicious that you should really be planning an evening around it- especially a romantic one.

The kitchen smelled of saffron and garlic, and the always alluring, basil- and then the taste Oooooohhh…. sensual on all levels.

Now go grab a lobster- and your lover- and make a memorable meal. Then please, please, write me back and tell you about it. My love is 1500 miles away right now- I would appreciate the vicarious thrill.

Saffron Aioli Lobster and Creamy Basil Linguini
serves 2
2- 1.25-1.5# lobsters
1 clove fresh garlic
generous pinch of saffron
.25 c olive oil
5oz fine linguini- dried
3T fine chopped fresh basil
3T mascarpone or creme fraiche
reserved pasta water (put aside a cup, you won’t need it all)
I served my lobster cool/room temperature, but this can me made hot and just keep a bowl of the aioli oil on the side for dipping.
To be just a little humane, I put my lobster in the freezer for about an hour to lull him to never never land. I get a little freaky about active lobsters being plunked into a pot. 
In a large pot with a lid, bring 1.5″ of water to the boil. Add the lobster and cover the pot. Steam for 7 then turn off the heat and let sit for 2 more mins. DO NOT overcook your lobster. I find this method of gentle cooking at the end yields more tender meat and prevents over cooking.
Remove the lobsters and let cool a few minutes before breaking apart.
In a pestle, crush a clove of garlic into a rough paste, add the saffron, a T or so of oil and salt and pound into a creamy paste. Then add remaining oil and stir to combine. Allow to sit for at least 20 mins.
For the pasta- cook the pasta to al dente, approximately 7 minutes, drain- reserving a cup of cooking water, rinse quickly and toss with a glug of olive oil.
In a large bowl put the mascarpone and basil, S&P and enough pasta water to mix it all into a creamy sauce. Then simply toss in the pasta.

{Day 6} Flavored Oils

When the day has been long and that chicken in the fridge just looks so, well, geez- another chicken? A splash of flavored oil can make the simple sublime. Mashed potatoes get beautiful chartreusey green puddles of yum with basil oil, take a weeknight pasta and drizzle it with smoked paprika oil and the next time you feel like popcorn- make it the old fashioned way on the stove and use a lemon or rosemary oil to pop the corn and then splash some more on top instead of butter. Sensational in a snap. Love it.
The best part is that flavored oils not only are a great go-to, but easy to make and easily makes smiles when you give them away. Three versions here today, lemon, basil and smoked paprika. I know, sounds way too simple right? why not Thai basil with vanilla and chilis? Because these are the staples, like I said, the go-to’s, the good pals that are there when you need them. From here all things are possible and limitless, but feel free to be creative, I won’t mind. Take these oils as a base and feel free to add to them.
There are two methods to adding flavor to oil, both simple. The hot method: warm oil, add flavoring in the form of herbs or spices and allow to steep, then filter and bottle.  The cold diffusion method requires just adding the flavor to the oil and give it plenty of time to steep. I made the lemon oil this way which infused a brightness from the lemon that is just out of this world.
If you decide to leave leaves, or zests or especially garlic in your bottles- be sure that they be stored in the fridge. Weird things can start growing and that is just not a good thing.
I bottle mine in smaller bottles when giving them away. They can be tucked into bags with other treats, given as pairs or sets, and it doesn’t impose the receiver to give up too much fridge or counter space. Besides, little jewels are also so much more delightful, and who doesn’t like jewels?
Hot Oil Infusion Method
No quantities here, this is by your taste- but a good start is one bunch of fresh herbs to every quart of oil or 3T of spices. Use a mild olive oil over a plain vegetable oil.
Warm oil to 185˚ in a heavy duty saucepan.
Add bruised fresh herbs or combine all in a blender for more intense and faster results.
or add spices that have first been dry toasted in a pan stovetop. Toasting releases the oils and aromatics to get the party started.
Once cooled  and rested overnight, taste the oil for flavor balance. Add more oil to the batch if it’s strong or rewarm and add more flavoring. The flavors do take a few days to develop so don’t expect too much at first, by day 3 or 4 you are truly there.
Cold Oil Infusion Method
Take bottle, add herbs or spices, pour over oil. Done. Good. Mostly.
I made the lemon oil by whizzing a cup of oil with the zest of one lemon in a blender then added it into a quart of oil. All that beating and battering released more oils into the base and can I tell you? divine. It left the oil cloudy at first but a few days later- sparkling lemon flavor and a clear oil.
Bruise any fresh herbs first, let them steep in the oil in a bucket or large jar for at least 2 weeks and then strain. If you like the look you can put fresh pretty herbs and spices into the gift bottles for a nicer presentation.