- Lobster Spoons w/ Basil Oil & Red Wine Braised Short Ribs on Crostini
With culinary stints in Brazil, Copenhagen, and France (just to name a few), Chicago-based Kitchit Chef Charles Webb has literally cooked all over the world. For Webb, who has visited 32 countries -- and lived in nine of them-- traveling has provided the greatest inspiration for his cuisine.
Though Webb is known for his ability to cook authentic international fare, he enjoys combining flavors from different cuisines to achieve signature dishes. He notes that the key to his success comes from embedding himself in each unique culture and learning to cook traditional dishes straight from the locals who know it best. His most memorable experience involved spending time in the kitchen of his Italian roommate’s mother. She graciously shared the secrets of her perfect frutti di mare recipe, though it’s taken Webb years to master.
We pushed Webb to share his top food destination, and while it was hard for him to pinpoint just one, he couldn’t help but give a nod to Barcelona. The incredible breadth and quality of the markets alone make a visit worthwhile for any foodie. The good news for those who can’t hop on a plane however, is that some of these specialty ingredients, like cured Spanish ham (Jamón bellota pata negra) and exotic chilies, are making their way stateside. “It’s exciting that these products are becoming available to me year-round,” Webb says. “I can go to a Kitchit client’s home and really blow them away. It moves the night beyond a dinner and into a real cultural experience.” Below, Webb shares a few of his in-demand recipes influenced from an array of cuisines from Italy to Peru.
Lobster w/Tomatoes & Basil Oil
For the Basil Oil:
- 1 ½ cups of basil leaves
- 1 cup olive oil (preferably Spanish)
For the Lobster:
- 3 lbs whole lobster (Webb recommends using whole 1 ½ pounders from Maine USA)
- Salt/pepper to taste
- 2 Tbs butter
- 5 bay leaves
- 1 tsp peppercorns
- 1 pound organic tomatoes
- 1 bunch microgreens
Basil Oil Instructions:
- Blanch basil in medium saucepan of boiling water for 10 seconds. Drain and rinse under cold water.
- Pat basil dry with paper towels.
- Transfer to blender. Add oil slowly; puree until smooth.
- Transfer to small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
(Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before using.
- Take whole lobster and leave in freezer for 10 minutes.
- Boil water in pot with salt, pepper, peppercorns, bay leaves. Insert lobster into boiling water gently. Let cook and pull out (Approx 15-20 min).
- Place on a plate and separate the tail and claw meat
- Dice organic cherry tomatoes. Season while tossing to distribute flavors.
- Place lobster meat in a sauté pan with butter on light heat. Add tomatoes and let warm for 5 minutes.
- Remove meat from heat and pass through a strainer to remove liquid. Spoon onto serving vessel (for appetizers consider a crostini or small ceramic spoons. For heartier dish serve over pasta or rice).
- Drizzle basil or chili oil on top for added burst of flavor and serve with micro greens.
Red Wine Braised Short Ribs on Crostini
- 6 whole bone-in short ribs
- 2 cups white flour
- Olive oil
- Salt/pepper to taste
- 1 bottle red wine (depends of style of wine you like)
- Mirepoix - (2 carrots med size, 2 celery stock med size, 1 white onion med size, finely diced)
- Aromatic herbs (rosemary, thyme, etc.)
- 1 small can tomato paste or handful of sun dried tomatoes
- Optional: Mexican chiles (anchos, guajillos, and/or pasillas)
- In a pot add olive oil to cover the base. Turn on medium heat.
- Salt and pepper the short ribs and dredge in flour.
- Place ribs in pot while bringing up the heat to brown meat on all sides. After all sides of short ribs are browned, place on a plate to the side.
- In the pot add the mirepoix and stir until onions become translucent. Stir in the tomato paste and let cook and caramelize down for about 3-5 minutes.
- Slowly add the red wine until a loose paste is formed. Continue adding the red wine and start to layer your aromatics and chilies
- Next add the short ribs to the pot and fill with red wine and a little water until the meat is submerged 95%. Cover and reduce heat to a light simmer. Let cook for 5-7 hours (longer for more tender short ribs).
- Remove short ribs from pot and discard bone. Take sauce and strain so no solids are left and reduce for sauce over medium heat until reduced by half.
- Serve on top of crostini, polenta, risotto, or pasta. Drizzle sauce over short ribs.