Recipe for Lobster Tart


8 oz flour
3 oz cold lard
3 oz cold butter
3 tablespoon ice-cold water (or more)

1 live lobster *
5 eggs **
1/2 pint milk
1/2 pint single cream


*Note: the lobster should be good and lively. A "cripple" - that is, one with only one claw for which you should pay less - will do fine for this dish.

** Leave out one of the egg whites, it is not needed for this recipe.

Make the pastry first. Sieve the flour with the salt into a roomy bowl. Chop the lard and butter into the flour with a sharp knife. Finish rubbing in the fat to flour with the tips of your fingers. Work in enough ice-cold water to give you a ball of soft (but not sticky) dough. Cover with cling-film and leave the dough to rest in a cool place for half an hour or so. Bring a panful of salted water to the boil - enough to swim the lobster. Kill the lobster (or have you fishmonger do so) with a knife slipped in behind its head. Or plunge the creature in the boiling water and hold it under with a wooden spoon (lobsters do drown).

Cook the lobster for 3-4 minutes - just long enough to turn the shell scarlet and make the lobster easier to skin. Drain it, sever the head and cut in half, taking care to save the greenish black brain (rather like liquid seaweed). This will turn anything into which it is stirred wonderful sunny scarlet as it cooks. Reserve the brain for making lobster butter. Otherwise it can go into the tart filling.

Remove the lobster meat from the body, claws and head (leave out the dark intestine which runs right down the body - and the stomach at the top of the head). Slice the body meat into medallions. Leave the claw meat whole.

Bake the tart-case blind (lined with foil weighted with dried beans instead of filling) in a medium oven, 375 F (190 C) gas mark 5, for 10 minutes.

Beat the milk, cream and eggs together and season. Pour the mixture into the cooled tart tin. Arrange the lobster pieces over all. Bake at 400 F (200 C) gas mark 6 for 30 minutes, until the egg-filling is set.

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