Fettuccine & Lobster Cream Sauce. This rich pasta dish from Rome is a delightful treat at Christmas, and is often served at La Vigilia di Natale before Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.
Traditionally this recipe uses fettuccine, but you can use linguine or any other type of pasta. For those who know their Italian food, they’ll know that there is no difference between tagliatelle and fettuccine – just the region they come from in Italy. So use whichever pasta you prefer. This recipe sometimes has the addition of pecorino romano, but I’m personally not a big fan of cheese with seafood.
1.5kg live crayfish (this can be 1 large or 2 smaller crayfish)
3 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed but left whole
2 shallots, finely chopped
1⁄3 cup tomato paste
3 large plum tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1⁄2 cup dry white wine
2 fresh oregano sprigs
A handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped, plus more to garnish
1⁄2 cup double cream
250g fettuccine (or linguine if you prefer)
The easiest way to kill your crayfish is to wrap them in a plastic bag and place them in the freezer for 3 hours. Some people like to cook them in sea water, but that’s not always possible so bring a very large pot of salted water to boil, add the crayfish then boil until cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the crayfish to a large rimmed baking tray to cool.
Keep the water to one side for cooking the pasta. As their body spikes are sharp, use a tea towel to hold the head and, using a sharp knife, make a large incision under the tail and remove the meat from tail, then gently but firmly twist the tail until it snaps apart – remember that there is a lot of meat just under the head. Finally, put the meat in the fridge to cool.
Heat the oil in a heavy sauté pan over medium heat, then add the garlic and shallots. When they are turning translucent and soft, stir in the tomato paste and the chopped plum tomatoes and stir for 3 minutes. Then add the wine, oregano and parsley. Pour in the cream and continue cooking on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, cut the crayfish meat into bite-sized pieces, then add to the sauce and cook for a further 5 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the crayfish flavour is infused.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the reserved crayfish salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain in a colander and add the pasta to the sauce pan, toss over a low heat for about 3 minutes until the sauce coats the pasta. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with extra parsley and serve immediately.