I mean just look at my dad and my husband: who's more ecstatic?
It all started one glorious summer Sunday afternoon many years ago when Jeff and I were dating. We took a ride with my parents to Galilee, in Rhode Island, where local fishermen were selling freshly caught lobsters. My dad (in a typical moment of generosity) offered to buy a couple; he’s had Jeff eating out of the palm of his hand ever since.
Jeff and I recently took a red-eye to Rhode Island for an impromptu visit. Since the New England lobster season starts in April-May, we timed it perfectly.
One afternoon we took a ride to fabulous Newport and discovered a fish market that was selling lobsters. Not just any lobsters. 10, 12, even 14 pound lobsters! My dad picked up a 14-pounder and exclaimed, "this one's so big you could put a saddle on it and ride it.”
Fearing that a 14-pounder's meat might not be tender enough, we asked the fisherman’s advice. This guy couldn't have been cast better if he were in a movie about RI: Red Sox cap-wearing, Right-out-of-the-Soprano's-massive guy with huge hands, which were clearly accustomed to scooping up lobsters.
He also had a wicked sense of humor, and in-between wise cracks, assured us that meat from larger lobsters can be tender. The key is in the cooking. "Whateva youz do, DON'T overcook it. Otherwise, youz'll be back here tomorra complainin that these were no good," he warned us.
Most people agree that the smaller the lobster, the more tender the meat. Yet, the very thought of feasting on an 8 or 12 or 14 pound lobster easily seduced my dad. He settled on two: an 8 3/4 pounder and a 9 1/2 pounder (which is the one he's holding), mostly because of logistics -- we simply didn't have a pot big enough for a 14 pound lobster.
As he went to pay the lobster guy, words were exchanged, and then suddenly, my dad turned and left. We all panicked. Oh, no! Did dad offend the lobster guy? "No lobster for you!"
Thankfully, no. My father explained, the guy told him, “Come back in an hour or so. Something tells me the prices might go down.” An hour later, we returned, and as he said, the prices went down.
My dad left the market holding his lobsters like a proud father of twins coming home from the hospital. I think this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Dad and the lobster guy.
There are myriad ways to cook lobster, including boiling, baking, grilling, and poaching in vanilla, which seems to be de rigeur on this season’s Top Chef, doesn't it? We opted for grilled lobster, which was a hit with everybody.
So how do you grill a lobster? As most chefs and grilling experts suggest, we boiled the lobster first. The amount of water and cooking time will vary depending on the size of the lobster you use. Just be sure that you have a BIG POT.
To kill the lobster, hold a butcher knife over its head, about an inch behind its eyes (as shown below) and puncture and slice forward in one motion.
Drop the entire lobster into boiling unsalted water. Most recipes suggest boiling until the shell turns red, about 5 minutes for a 1 ½ pound lobster. We cooked ours about 20-25 minutes because of their large size. Just note that the lobster should not be completely cooked at this point; it willl finish cooking on the grill. After you remove the lobster, let it cool slightly before continuing.
In order to save my mom's kitchen, we took our boiled lobster outdoors, where my dad proceeded to slice them in half, lengthwise, and to crack the shells in order for the meat to get exposed to the grill’s flames. This was no easy task. Check out this short film of a 200-pound-guy-with-a-hammer whaling on a lobsta that just wouldn't crack.
Now, that it is open, you can brush the meat and the inside of the lobster with melted butter.
Place the lobster flesh side down on a pre-heated grill, and cook until the meat forms some grill marks and begins to turn opaque, about 4-6 minutes for a 1 ½ pounder. Ours took about 8-10 minutes.
Baste them with melted butter, as Jeff's mom, Dorothy, is doing, to help seal in the moisture and make the meat succulent.
Flip the lobsters over and cook for the same amount of time that you did on the first side. Be careful to not drip too much butter directly onto the grill or large flames will leap up at you. (Who needs eyebrows anyway?) Thank goodness my husband's a dermatologist. Oh wait, he tells me dermatologists don't do burns; however, if the medication used to treat the seared eyebrows causes some kind of rash, then he could help us.
The lobster is done when the shell turns a deep red, and the meat is opaque. Check the meat at the thickest part of the tail to make sure it's fully cooked. Remove the meat from the shells, and serve with your desired accompaniments.
Everyone at our house savored the smoky flavor of the grilled lobster and enjoyed it with simple melted butter and lemon or with my mom’s famous tartar made from horseradish, ketchup, mayo, lemon juice, and Tabasco.
According to everyone who ate the grilled lobsters (in a state of buttery drenched delirium) that evening, their concerns were allayed; the meat was perfect.
*Print recipe only here.
*For a simple how to grill lobster guide, check out this article from about.com.
*I also just discovered a delicious recipe for Grilled Lobster and Potatoes with Basil Vinaigrette on epicurious.com that was featured the June 2007 issue of Gourmet.
*Finally, thanks to my new friend Mark from New Hampshire who sent me a link to this interesting article from The Boston Globe. It's about "colossal crustaceans" and corroborates my story!
Come'on over. Food Blogga will be hosting Weekend Herb Blogging next week (July 9-15).
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