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Dec 26, 2008 10:05 AM

Suggestions for NYE Dinner for 2 at home? - ISO Lobster bisque advice too

I'm looking for ideas for a menu for New Years Eve dinner at home this year. I'll be working until mid-to-late afternoon, and although we will not eat until late, I don't want anything too involved. My current thoughts were to start with a lobster (or shellfish) bisque, and then for the main course to have strip steaks, some sort of potato, and a steamed green vegetable.

I've never made a lobster or seafood bisque before. Can this be done with lobster tails (perhaps stretched with some shrimp to save costs)? I don't want to deal with live lobsters. I am assuming this can be made ahead and just reheated. Any recipes would be welcome.

As to potatoes, I am looking for something different and festive but not that involved. Either something that can be popped in the oven before we sit down to the 1st course, or something that can be prepped entirely in advance, and cooked quickly between courses.

Alternate suggestions to this menu are welcome.

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  1. I just made my first seafood bisque last month (we had some leftover Dungeness crab). It was a bigger hit than the crabs the night before.

    Your only problem with using lobster tail for the bisque is that the shell won't have enough flavor to make a decent stock. You can get around this problem by buying seafood stock or making your own by supplementing the tail shell. Head-on, shell-on shrimp would be a good bet for supplementation.

    For the potatoes, how about a gratin? Festive, tasty, and doesn't require much in theway of last-minute attention. Maybe Pommes Dauphinois or Pommes Anna?

    7 Replies
    1. re: alanbarnes

      Thanks, Alan, Could you share the recipe you used for your bisque?

      1. re: masha

        the first time i made lobster bisque I had all these great intentions, but a severe lack of time. what I ended up doing was purchasing bisque at my local fish monger (they have it frozen) adding cream, cognac and lobster tail to it. It was fantastic. the fish monger makes it fresh with real stock, if you can find something like this it can be a real time saver since you are working that day. One thing I will recommend is to make sure you have a nice chardonnay with this course. this is one of my favorite pairings, these 2 things are made for eachother!

        1. re: masha

          Sure! We started with cooked crab meat. It's probably easy enough to cook the lobster in the soup, but I'll be my own guinea pig on that one. You can take the extra step of cooking the lobster ahead of time, or you can experiment. For two very generous (as in, do we really need a second course?) servings:

          Steam a pound or more of lobster tails until the meat is opaque. Remove the meat from the shell and chop it coarsely.

          In a small saucepan, sweat a tablespoon or so of minced shallots in a tablespoon of butter until translucent, then add a quarter cup of dry white wine, 2 cups of stock, 2 tablespoons of uncooked white rice, and a tablespoon of tomato paste. Simmer for half an hour or so until the rice is very soft. Add 2/3 of the lobster meat. Puree.

          Return to the saucepan, add half a cup of heavy cream, a tablespoon or two of brandy, and the remaining meat, reserving a couple of good-looking chunks for garnish. Heat gently to a bare simmer. Add salt, white pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste. Ladle into warmed bowls and garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche, some chunks of lobster, and a sprinkling of chopped chives.

          I agree with cleopatra999 that chardonnay goes very well with this dish. But hey, it's New Year's Eve - Champagne would be a good pairing, too!

          1. re: alanbarnes

            especially since Champagne and most sparklers are made from chardonnay grapes.

          2. re: masha

            If you live where you can get fresh dungeness crab, I would take Alan's advice and make crab bisque. I have a recipe for making the bisque and the fumet (shellfish stock) on my blog.

            We made it a day ahead and it was really good. You can also substitute chicken stock for the fumet, although the fumet adds a lot of flavor.

            1. re: ourhomeworks

              Picking the crab is some serious work, though. Inspired by masha, tonight we made bisque base from leftover crab stock. Part of it went into the freezer; the rest made shrimp bisque. Worked like a charm. A little arugula salad, a little crusty bread, mmmm...

        2. I'm not sure its Minor's or another brand, but you can buy a lobster concentrate (like clam or chicken paste). I tried it once years ago, and it was pretty good. It has sufficient lobster flavor that adding cream and brandy will do the trick. I ordered it, but I am sure if you are in a metropolitan area you can find it. Google "minor's" and you may see what I mean.

          1 Reply
          1. re: OldTimer

            Better than Bullion also makes a lobster base. I haven't tried it, but if their beef base is any indication, it's a serviceable alternative to homemade.

          2. Instead of strip steak, if you are in a cold climate, consider short ribs. You make them the day before and reheat that evening.

            1. A potato recipe that we like, special but not too involved, is hasselback potatoes, like baked potatoes with omphf. Here's a link to the food network recipe that I've been using lately Garlic Hasselback Potatoes with Herbed Sour Cream.


              1. Alan - The recipe for bisque looks very doable and delicious. I assume that I could prepare the bisque through the puree stage the day before, and then finish it the next day.

                Val - Thanks for the short rib suggestion, but I don't think so. Aside from the fact that DH is not that crazy about short ribs, I am aiming for a somewhat elegant, not comfort food, tone. (And, I have some strips in the freezer, which is why I am leaning towards them.)

                Pommes Dauphinois or Anna sound plausible too. Again, I am sure that I can find recipes but if anyone has one they particularly like, please pass along. (Ajcraig: I am sure the Hasselback Potato recipe is great but I do not care for potatoes with sour cream And, it may be a bit rich after the lobster bisque in any event.)

                Thanks too for the wine pairing suggestions. That will be DH's department. We have a reasonably well-stocked wine cellar. A crisp Chardonnay with the bisque is likely. (We typically don't pop champagne until almost midnight.)