Dress up your favorite Idaho® Potatoes with lobster and saffron aioli for a special holiday appetizer! Salty, crunchy thick-cut chips are a sturdy base for buttery lobster tail. Topped with a spicy saffron aioli and chives, it makes an elegant nibble for any party. This post is sponsored by Idaho® Potatoes. All opinions are my own.
The holiday season is upon us, which means HOLIDAY PARTIES! It’s a special time of year, so I don’t feel guilty about a little splurge. The end of one year, the beginning of a new one… It’s a time to celebrate with friends and family and it’s a time to pull out all the tricks and SHINE! I make one or two special appetizers for parties and lobster on thick-cut potato chips is no slouch. The saffron aioli elevates it to “high falootin’ status” and this appetizer is always the first to disappear. It looks much fussier than it actually is, everything except the chips can be made in the morning and set aside in the refrigerator for later. This is key when you have lots to do before guests arrive.
Everyone loves potatoes, especially if they are in chip form… amiright?! Top that salty, crunchy guy with a bit of decadent, buttery lobster tail and drizzle a little aioli over it, then sprinkle a few finely chopped chives like fairy dust and you my friend, have just earned your Rock Star status. Anyone can put out a bowl of chips, but MAKE chips? Now we’re talking. It’s not as difficult as you might think. It’s actually pretty easy, as long as you follow a few rules:
Chef’s tip: Soak your potatoes
Slicing potatoes and soaking them in water helps to remove excess starch. Why does this matter? Extra starch prevents your potatoes from achieving maximum crispy goodness and may cause them to burn instead of becoming that perfect golden brown. While we’re on the topic of potatoes, please make sure you get a Russet or Baking Potato! If you are eyeballing those waxy potatoes, just keep walking…
How do you know when they are done? When you slide your potatoes into the hot oil, they should look like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoKsQhfnk14
When they are close to done, they will almost stop bubbling and when you scoop them out, they will feel hard and crispy. The color is a good indicator, but not always a true measure of “doneness”. Look for pockets of white in the middle of your chip- that means they need a little more time.
See those chives underneath? It’s not just for decoration! The chives prevent the potato slices from sliding all over the plate! Use herbs as a barrier between the food and plate. They help to hold things in place as well as keeping sticky items from adhering to the platter. Herbs also add color and texture to the presentation!
These threads will set you back a smidge. Saffron isn’t cheap, but luckily we only need a pinch. If it is not an option, turmeric will give you the yellow color, but there is no substitute for the taste & aroma of saffron.
How to cook lobster tails
Thread two 6″ skewers through the tail meat and out the bottom of the tail. This will keep them straight as an arrow!
- 1 large Idaho® Russet Potato, sliced 1/16" thick
- 3 - 4 Maine lobster tails, a little over a pound total weight
- 1 bunch chives
- saffron aioli
- oil for frying - I used canola
For the spicy saffron aioli
- 1/2 cup canola oil, or blended oil
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp. saffron threads, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. white pepper
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. hot sauce of your choice, I used Sriracha
- Soak potato slices in cold water for at least 2 hours. Rinse and pat dry.
For the Aioli
- Pour the canola oil and olive oil into a measuring cup with a spout. Using an immersion blender or food processor- combine the egg yolks, mustard, saffron, hot sauce, salt and white pepper. With the motor running, add the oils SLOWLY in a thin, steady stream. When it begins to emulsify, you can add the oil a little faster until it is all incorporated. The aioli should be the consistency of mayonnaise. Use saffron water to thin the aioli if needed. Transfer into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
To steam the lobster
- Carefully thread two 6" wooden skewers through the tails to keep them straight. Pour about a half an inch of water into a pot and place a steamer rack inside. (I used my canning rack!) When water has started to simmer, place lobster tails inside and cook for 1 minute per ounce. Ex: If the tails are 6 oz each, you will cook them for 6 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Using sharp kitchen scissors, cut the underside of the lobster tail down the middle and slide your finger along the curved hard shell to loosen. Grab the lobster tail & pull to slide it out of the shell. Slice into large chunks and set aside.
To Make the Potato Chips
- In a deep, heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil to 350F. Slowly add potato slices and fry until golden brown. Do not overcrowd the pot. Add a handful at a time, if you add too many the temperature of the oil will drop and the potatoes will not fry properly. Using a spider or tongs, flip potatoes over in the oil so both sides cook evenly. It should only take a few minutes per side. When they are done, remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.
- Spread a very thin layer of aioli on the chip and top with lobster. The aioli will act as "glue" to keep the lobster in place. Drizzle a bit of the saffron aioli over the lobster and sprinkle a few chives over the top.
- Lay them on a chive-lined platter and serve. Bask in your glory, you've earned it.
Cheat Method for the Aioli: Steep saffron in very hot water for 15 minutes, add to your favorite mayonnaise, add hot sauce and stir to combine.
I usually soak my potatoes for 6+ hours, changing the water after the first 2 hours. This helps to eliminate quick a bit of the starch.