Common Quarter’s pasta dish can be made with lobster or crab

Q: Had a fabulous dish at the Common Quarter in Marietta. It was lobster spaghetti which sounded a bit boring, but was so good. The dish was loaded with chunks of lobster, a red/pink garlicy sauce with a creamy texture and the perfect amount of heat to make the dish incredible. Hope the chef will share the recipe, would love to make at home. — G. Bearden, Marietta

A: Common Quarter’s chef Jeffrey Gardner was happy to supply this recipe which is still on the menu, but now made with crab instead of lobster. When he sent the recipe, he wrote, “We want to always be thinking about what will provide the best value for our guests. When lobster prices started to skyrocket (and they haven’t come down), we made the decision to take the dish off because it didn’t feel right to charge people $38 to $40 for a pasta dish that didn’t involve shaving copious amounts of truffle over the top. Crab seemed to be the best compromise to bring back a dish where people could still get the flavors they enjoyed from the lobster spaghetti, but at a more everyday price.”

So they changed the recipe to feature crab. Gardner says any crab will do. Blue crab, the most accessible type available in this area, is fine. But you could substitute Dungeness crab, rock crab or any other variety of crab you have available.

For our reader, Gardner provides the steps for preparing this dish from a live lobster including his tip on how to get every bit out of your expensive purchase. “You can use a rolling pin to extract those small, yet delicious, bits of meat from the legs.”

Sambal oelek is an Asian hot sauce that’s a combination of chilies, shrimp paste, fish sauce and other ingredients. You can find it at any store selling Asian groceries or in some well-stocked grocery stores.

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Common Quarter’s Lobster Spaghetti

4 ounces dry spaghetti

1 large live lobster, roughly 1 1/2 to 2 pounds

Salt

2 tablespoons canola oil

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 small shallot, finely minced

2 tablespoons sambal oelek

2 cups heavy cream

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup San Marzano tomato puree or homemade marinara sauce

2 tablespoons fresh chives or scallions, very thinly sliced

Cook spaghetti according to package directions, drain and keep warm.

In a large stockpot, bring salted water to a boil. Have a bowl of ice water nearby.

Submerge the lobster in the boiling water and cook for two minutes. Shock in a bath of ice water to stop the cooking process. Once the lobster is cool enough to handle, remove from the ice and crack the shells to harvest all of the meat. Reserve the shells. Cut the tail and claw meat into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

Make spicy cream sauce: In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the lobster shells and cook until slightly aromatic, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and shallot and cook until the garlic just begins to turn golden. Add the sambal oelek and toast for one minute, then add the cream. Season with salt to taste. Allow mixture to simmer until cream has thickened. Strain out lobster shells. Keep sauce warm.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat until it starts to foam. Add reserved lobster meat and cooked spaghetti, tossing until lobster is warmed through, but not overcooked. Add tomato puree and a small amount of the spicy cream sauce. You can add as much as you like, but the idea is to just have enough to coat the pasta without any excess sauce in the bottom of the bowl. Reserve remainder of sauce for another use. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt as desired. Toss with chives or scallions and serve. Serves: 2

Per serving: 1,448 calories (percent of calories from fat, 74), 36 grams protein, 59 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 121 grams fat (67 grams saturated), 449 milligrams cholesterol, 720 milligrams sodium.

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