Chilled Maine Lobster with Lobster Drawn Butter
Lobster Drawn Butter is something I have done for a long time. If you are serving lobster and you are like me, not really down with eating the tommaley, it is a great use of the the lobster body because it draws out a lot more of the lobster's flavor.
I am a fan, as far as upscale restaurants go, of lobster not being served in the shell. I really only eat whole lobster in New England from fish shops. It is so much cheaper that way and I don't need to be covered in lobster juice while I am dressed up. It's similar to the way you wouldn't get dressed up to go to eat BBQ. You are just going to get messy. But at a fish shop you are generally paying a much cheaper price per pound and then a nominal fee for them to cook it.
Those in the Park City/Salt Lake City area who have not had a lobster roll need to get after Freshies Lobster Co.'s roll, and pay the premium for the Monstah. It is savage and you don't have to worry about doing any work for that sweet lobster meat.
As far as equipment goes you will need a five gallon pot, a 220 degree thermometer, a heavy knife(ideally a 10 inch chefs), an egg timer, and a cutting board. A large cooler full of ice and water would be perfect for an ice bath to cool them down, and give it a quick wash followed by a wipe down with some bleach water before and after use. Kitchen shears are useful for getting the meat out of the knuckles. A roll of paper towels will come in handy to wipe up the lobster juice when breaking them down. You can use kitchen towels if you want, but make sure you get them into the wash immediately. You really don't want those sitting around too long unless you don't mind your house smelling like a Red Lobster dumpster.
The lobster terminology I am using is pretty basic, but if you are new to lobster the one that you might have trouble with is the "knuckles." The lobster's knuckles are the parts connecting the claw to the body. I know a couple of people who find this to be their favorite parts. I am more of the pincer claw(the small pointy one), then the crusher claw(the fat one), then knuckles, then tail. I think tails are overrated. They are tasty, but no where near as tender and sweet as the claws and knuckles, but to each their own. The other two you need to know are the tomalley which is the tan liver of the lobster and the roe which is green when raw and bright red when cooked. They are considered delicacies but are not really my cup of tea.
What you will need:
- 3 gallons water
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 4 live lobsters, about 1.25# each
- an ice bath large enough to completely cool the lobsters in
- 1# sweet cream butter, unsalted
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 lemons, cut into wedges
- 1 jar Grandma Fitch's Gourmet Cocktail Sauce
Bring the salt and the water to a rolling boil in the five gallon pot and then dispatch the lobsters if you are squeamish about throwing them right in the water.
Set the egg timer to seven minutes, turning the water down to a simmer when the it comes back to a boil. Keep a close eye on them, the proteins steeped from them have a tendency to cause boil overs. When the timer dings for ya, throw the lobsters in the ice bath. Let them chill for about a half hour.
One at a time, set the lobsters on your cutting board. Grasp the lobster's body in one hand and the tail in your other. Twist them apart from each other. Uncurl the tail and place it flat on your cutting board. Place the tip of your knife mid way down the lobster's tail and your free hand across the back of the knife and gently ease the tip down until you reach the cutting board. Then bring start lowering the hilt, leaving the tip on the board where it made contact. Gently rock the knife until the tail splits. Turn the tail around and finish spitting the tail in half, rinse the tommaley and roe out if needed or save any roe in a back to use in bisque.
Grab the one claw and knuckle set at a time and twist them off of the body. Twist the knuckles away from the claws and set the knuckles aside. Be wary of the spikes on the shell. Hold them with a loose towel if you have to, so the don't tear your hands up. Grasp the lobster's claw and wiggle it's, uhhh, thumb until it breaks comes loose. As you slowly pull it out, use your other hand to keep the meat attached to the rest of the claw meat. This should also pull the large piece of cartilage out of the claw meat. If it doesn't, don't despair. It happens. If the thumb meat comes off with the shell you can dig it out with a fork or a toothpick, but don't feel like you have to fuss over it too much to the detriment of your sanity.
Hold your knife so the spine is face down. With your other hand hold the tip of the claw with its thumb down and use the back of the knife to crack the top of the claw. Turn it over and crack the other bottom. Then crack the sides of the claw. You should be able to snap the claw in half at this point and pull the intact claw meat out. If it's not intact, dig out what you can and remove any pieces of shell. It's still gonna taste great.
The knuckles can be a bit more of a challenge. slide one blade of the kitchen shears in one end and crack one end then insert it in the opposing direction and finish the cut. Open the split up and crack the shell in two to pick out the meat.
Repeat until all the lobsters are clean. Cover the lobster claws, knuckles and tail pieces with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. Take the four remaining bodies and cut them in halves similar to the tails. Place three of them in separate ziplock bags and freeze. You can use these later for making bisque or more lobster butter. Alternately as part of a big seafood feed you can turn them into four pounds of lobster butter, but that is a lot of butter to go through, so you are going to need a bunch more clams, mussels, crab legs, steamers, geoducks, gooseneck barnacles, and grilled octopus to get through it all. ORRRRR, make four pounds of the butter then divide it into bags and freeze it to use whenever you want.
For the lobster butter melt one pound of butter with one table spoon of paprika. Take 1 lobster body(both sides) and place them face down in a pan. Use the thermometer to keep the temperature of the butter around 200 degrees. Steep the body for 15 minutes on one side, then flip them over for another 15 minutes. Strain the bodies out if you feel like it or just pitch them into the rubbish bin.
Arrange lobster artfully on the plate, and serve with dishes of lobster drawn butter, Grandma Fitch's Gourmet Cocktail Sauce, and lemon wedges. Remember to never serve anything sweet with lobster. Part of the big flavor experience you are paying for is how high the glucose and thus the sweetness is of the lobster. It would be a shame if something were mask it. That is why it is normally served with creamy, buttery, acidic things, to accent it.