UMass Chef Matthia Accurso’s skills with lobster earned him first place and a gold medal at the NACUFS Culinary Challenge in Baltimore last month. He prepared Slow Cooked Lobster with Lobster Kale Tortellini, Citrus Glazed Carrots, Celery Root and Fennel Butter Sauce, an entry that blew the ACF judges away with technique and flavor.
In a way, lobster is a primal ingredient: chef vs. sea. Most animal proteins arrive on a chef’s mise en place…well…already dead and ready to cook. Not so with lobsters. At the start of the competition, the lobsters were very much alive, crawling in kelp beds within hotel pans. Hours before the competition, Accurso talked about the task at hand.
“Killing a lobster is about making it as humane as possible,” Accurso says. “A knife between the eyes is immediate, and I think it’s the best way.”
While his dish at the competition would be a little tricky to prepare for hundreds of people, Accurso does use live lobster for catered events at UMass. He shared with us a simple lobster and pasta recipe that can be prepared as a crowd-pleasing main course for 100, 200 or even 500. It just takes a little advanced planning and smart use of ingredients.
With the recipe for New England Lobster with Angel Hair Pasta and Roasted Corn Puree that he developed for Barilla, Accurso brings elements of a classic New England summer feast together on one plate, made even better with angel hair pasta to soak up all the beachy flavors. Par-cooking the lobster up to a day ahead makes this a very doable recipe.
Variations are possible, too, Accurso says. Instead of corn being the focus as the sauce, a tomato-fennel sauce could give this dish a whole different profile, as could just about any farm-fresh vegetables available.