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Lobster And Artichoke Dip

Unlike most Americans (and everybody else in my family), I’m not wild about the spinach-artichoke dip you find in every chain restaurant in town–and an increasing number of independent places, too. However, I can’t deny that there’s something to the basic idea, and have been thinking about other directions for it. Then it hit me: lobster and artichoke go very well together. Particularly if you use the claw meat–not just the pincers, but the rest of the claw, too, and even the meat from the legs if the lobster is big enough to make that work worthwhile. (You could also use claw crabmeat.) The step of making lobster stock from the shells is highly desirable but optional. But it gives you the excuse to have a lobster dinner a few days before making this stuff.

Although I don’t use their recipe here, this is one of the best appetizers at Cafe Sbisa in the French Market.

  • Shell and claw meat of two one-pound Maine lobsters, or one 2 1/2 pounder
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • Stems of a bunch of parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup green onions, snipped thin
  • 1/3 stick butter
  • 1 can artichoke hearts packed in water
  • 8 oz. ricotta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 oz. whole-milk mozzarella
  • 4 oz. sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 dashes Tabasco
  • 1/3 cup very finely grated Romano cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dill
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Romano cheese

1. Break the claws open. Remove the meat and set aside. Put the shells in a saucepan with enough water to just cover. Add the onion, parsley stems, and garlic. Bring to a low boil, then lower to a simmer. Simmer for a half-hour.

2. Strain the water, dispose of the solid parts, but save one of the garlic cloves. Return the water to a light boil and reduce to about a half-cup while performing other steps.

3. In a large saucepan over low heat, cook the green onions in the butter until the onions turn soft. Remove from the heat.

4. Drain, rinse, and break the artichoke hearts into small pieces with your fingers, and add to the pot. Chop the reserved garlic clove and shred the lobster claw meat. Add both, along with all the other ingredients except the Monterey jack and romano cheeses. Stir just enough to combine all the ingredients. Add just enough lobster stock to lighten the mixture, but not to the point that it flows.

5. Turn the mixture into a glass baking dish. Mix the Monterey Jack with the Romano cheese and top the casserole with it. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, until cheese has melted and even gone a little crusty.

Serve with crackers, toasted pita, or crisp tortilla chips.

Makes enough as an appetizer for about 10, or as a buffet appetizer for about 20.