“No, Self, you are way too good not to spend the money on yourself.”
The struggle tears at my very core. Which of my little sides do I listen to? The side that knows that a $12 lobster is really costing me $48 in actual meat yield? Of course, this scenario doesn’t consider me using the shell and scraps for stock, bisque and the like, but I stray from the argument.
I guess at this point I’ll just listen to the side that lives its life in a state of mayhem – the restless side. I tire of lobster readily, so I imagine a little indulgence won’t hurt. Luckily, my kids do not like lobster, so I can just make some pizza for them and everyone is happy.
When you’re working with lobster, it really is such a valuable commodity that you need to treat it kindly. There needs to be something made from every part of the beast, whether it is the stock made from the shell, lobster rolls from the knuckle meat and claw meat (if you have a lot) and of course the sweet and savory tail simply served with butter as we see in restaurants around the world.
We are lucky to live in the proximity of the blue crab, as most of us can break them down with great aplomb. Picking a lobster will be second nature if you can accomplish the crab meat feat, and there are a few tricks as you move into this arena of pricy product.
If you are using the meat raw, it can be tricky to remove it from the lobster shell, as it will often stick to the exoskeleton. A simple trick to relieve yourself from any time in the psychiatric ward is to par-cook the lobster; steam or boil it for two minutes, tops, and then plunge it into an ice bath to stop the cooking. Of course, I recommend that you dispatch the lobster first in order to be at least a little more humane in the processing. Reference the recipe for the process, or look up some videos online. There are plenty from which to choose.
Now, I am not one to mix water and electricity, having seen “The Green Mile” one too many times. But there are some crab houses that run a very low voltage current through a large bin, slowly dropping bushels of crabs into the water. This kills them instantly and they won’t feel the pain of the steaming process. In addition, they also won’t tear off each other’s claws, a great annoyance to most of us down these ways.
Another method for the crabs is to stick them with a pick in the noggin, which likewise takes them out. Since most people down here aren’t too concerned about the psyche and feelings of the blue crab, suffice it to say that the claws will stay intact for the feast.
As usual I veer off course, but back to the lobster; dispatch, cook, pick and serve with brown butter. Pretty easy, right? And while you certainly do not need to use brown butter, I highly recommend at least trying it, both with lobster and steamed clams. You’ll be hooked.
Believe me, your mayhem side will thank you. And I do believe that your logical side will fold its hand when it takes its first, butter-drizzled bite.
1, 1-1/2 Pound lobster
2 ounces butter
2 lemon wedges
Parsley for garnish (optional)
Place the butter for all your guests (this is easier with a pound or more) in a saucepan and begin to melt it on medium heat
When the butter has melted, skim the foam off the top and keep on the heat. As the solids in the bottom start to turn brown, it will leave you with a nutty, lovely fragrance that can only be had from beurre noir
Strain the brown butter through cheesecloth and keep warm
Assuming that you don’t have a steamer at-the-ready, heat a large pot of water to a boil. If you don’t have a range with a strong enough output, use an outdoor propane burner (outdoors of course). This is also helpful if you are doing multiple lobsters, as you will need a large pot
You can dispatch the lobster prior to cooking to relieve it of the agony of the actual steaming process. Simply take a chef’s knife and stab the lobster in the head, along the line on the carapace
Drop the lobster in the water, and assuming that you have enough volume to prevent the temperature from dropping, start your timer
Cook for 10 minutes, and pull the lobster out to rest
You can either pick the lobster for your guests (no fun), or let them pick them themselves (fun). Just make sure that they have the right tools
Serve with brown butter and some classic New England sides like glazed turnips, maple-sweet potato, green beans and the like.