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Easy Entertaining — A Lobster Feast (party planning & recipes)

Ask anyone who has seen Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” knows, cooking whole live lobsters can be intimidating. But we’ve taken the fear out of the process by providing easy steps to properly cook lobsters, for the reward is well worth the effort.

Not only is lobster delicious eaten whole, its rich meat is luxurious in a variety of dishes including appetizers, soups, entrees and sides as well. We’ve included several of our favorite lobster recipes to enjoy as a full lobster-feast meal or as an accompaniment to other dishes.

For a wine pairing, we suggest a chardonnay to compliment the flavor and not over-power the lobster. Sonoma-Cutrer Sonoma Coast Chardonnay fits that bill perfectly. For dessert, do as they do in the northeast: enjoy fresh blackberries with a dollop of whipped cream — the perfect ending to a decadent lobster filled dinner.

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A Lobster Feast

Having the ability to buy top quality lobster at a very good price is an amazing benefit of living in Louisville. Clearwater Seafood is truly a hidden gem in our city. Be sure to see Greg Gapsis’s “From the Earth” feature on them to learn how Louisville became the major trans-shipment point for East Coast lobsters.

Lobster Primer

[box type=”bio”] LOBSTER LINGO:

  • Culls: lobsters missing a claw
  • Chickens: about 1 pound
  • Quarters: about 1-1/4 pounds
  • Selects: 1½ to 2½ pounds
  • Jumbos: over 2½ pounds[/box]
 

[box type=”bio”]LOBSTER EQUIVALENTS & MEASURES:

  • 1 pound cooked = about 2 cups chopped chunks
  • 1 (8-ounce) tail = 1 serving or 4 ounces cooked meat
  • 1 (1- to 1-1/2-pound) whole lobster = 1 serving or 4 ounces cooked meat[/box]
 
Traditional Boiled Lobster

To get the skinny on how to manage cooking one of those squirming green arthropods, we went to the source — Clearwater Seafood, whose Produce Road operation keeps them happily squirming until they are ready for our tables. Here is their advice on how to easily cook a whole lobster.

Bring at least ½ gallon of water per pound of lobster to a rolling boil in a very large pot — if it is a 2-pounder, use a gallon of water.

Add in 4 tablespoons of sea salt per ½ gallon of water — that’s a half-cup for a 2-pounder.

Carefully drop in the lobsters, one at a time, headfirst into the water. Return the water to a boil, and then start timing:
1 lb. = 12-15 min
1.5 lbs. = 15-20 min
2-3 lbs. = 20-25 min

Determining fully cooked Lobsters:

Lobster boil
Lobster boil
  • Lobsters will turn their characteristic bright red color well before the meat is thoroughly cooked inside.
  • Tug on an antennae or pull off one of the small walking legs. They both will come off easily when the lobster is done.
  • The meat inside will be firm, white and opaque.
  • The tomalley, which fills much of the body cavity, will be green.
  • The roe in female lobsters will be bright red and firm. If it is a dark greenish black, with an oily tar-like consistency, the lobster is undercooked.
  • The internal temperature will be 180 degrees.
  • If the lobsters will not be eaten right away, they must be cooled quickly in ice water. Drain the chilled lobsters, cover and keep refrigerated. You can keep cooked lobsters in your refrigerator for 1 or 2 days.
Lobster cocktail
Lobster cocktail
Lobster Cocktail (Serves 6)
  • 1 pound fresh-picked cooked lobster meat cut into bite-size pieces
  • Chopped lettuce
  • Remoulade
  • Lemon wedges for garnish

Divide chopped lettuce among 6 chilled martini glasses. Top with equal portions of fresh lobster meat and spoon a dollop of remoulade sauce on top. Garnish with lemon wedge.

Grilled Lobster Tails with Champagne Dipping Sauce (Serves 6)DSC_7114h

For the lobster tails:

  • 3 lobster tails
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 skewers

For the Champagne dipping sauce:

  • 1 bottle Korbel Brut Champagne
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 bunch thyme, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 shallots, chopped
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Heat the grill to medium-high heat. Cut the lobster tails in half lengthwise. Remove the meat from the tail shell and rub the inside of each shell with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Replace the meat and skewer each tail to keep the meat in place and to stop it from curling while cooking. Place the tail, shell side down, on the grill and cook without flipping the tail, until the meat is opaque, about 8 – 12 minutes.

Dipping sauce: Pour the champagne into a medium-size saucepan. Add the parsley, thyme, bay leaf and shallots. Cook over medium heat until just 1 cup of the liquid remains, about 25 minutes.
Strain the liquid and discard the herbs. Slowly whisk in the butter, one tablespoon at a time, over low heat. When all the butter has been incorporated, season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep the mixture warm while grilling the lobsters then divide into individual bowls for dipping.

Lobster Bisque (Serves 6)

For the lobster broth:

  • 1 tablespoon butter 

    Lobster bisque
    Lobster bisque
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 carrots, scraped and roughly chopped 
  • 2 celery ribs, roughly chopped 
  • 1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped 
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt 
  • Fresh cracked black pepper 
  • 1 ounce bourbon
  • 1 cup chardonnay
  • 6 cups vegetable stock 
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste 
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns 
  • 3 cooked lobster carcasses, roughly chopped 
  • 3 bay leaves 
  • 1 cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme

For the roux:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter 
  • ½ cup flour

For the bisque:

  • 1 cup heavy cream

For the lobster meat:

  • 2 tablespoons butter 
  • 3 cooked lobsters, meat cut bite-sized, claws reserved for garnish
  • 1 bunch fresh chives, for garnish

In a large pot, over medium heat, combine the butter and olive oil. Add the garlic, carrots, celery, onions, salt, pepper and sauté for 10 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the bourbon. Add the chardonnay and let reduce for 1 – 2 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, tomato paste, peppercorns, lobster carcasses, bay leaves, parsley and thyme. Add enough water to just cover the shells. Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour.

Roux: In a small saucepan, over medium heat, add the butter and flour and cook, whisking continuously until amber in color, 6 – 7 minutes. Remove from heat.

Bisque: Using a very fine strainer, strain the lobster broth into a medium pot. Add the roux and heavy cream and stir to combine. Let reduce on medium-low heat until thick, another 15 – 20 minutes.

Lobster meat: In a medium size pan, over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the lobster meat and sauté until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.

To serve: Divide the lobster meat among 6 bowls, placing it in the center. Ladle the bisque around the meat and top with a claw and chives.

Avalon’s Truffle Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese (Serves 8 as a side dish or 4 as a main course)
Avalon's Mac 'n' Cheese
Avalon’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Note: Avalon is gone now, but the memory of its rich lobster mac ‘n’ cheese lingers. F&D liked the dish so much that we featured it back in the Spring 2006 issue (available online).

  • Salt
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups grated white Cheddar
  • Black pepper
  • Cayenne 
  • ½ pound lobster claw meat
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons truffle oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives

Bring one gallon of water to a boil with ample salt to make the water “taste like the sea,” as Italians say. Boil the pasta until it’s al dente, taking care not to overcook as it will cook further in the dish.

Drain and rinse with cool water to stop it cooking; drizzle with a little vegetable oil and toss, to keep the pasta from sticking together.

Melt the butter in a two-quart saucepan over medium heat, and whisk in the flour. Cook for 1 minute, then slowly pour in the milk while stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Stir vigorously to ensure that there are no lumps. Bring to a simmer, then, once the milk has thickened somewhat, remove the pan from heat and add the heavy cream and Cheddar cheese. Mix well. Season to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne.

Toss the cooked pasta, cheese sauce and lobster meat together and place in a heavy oven-proof casserole dish. Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan cheese and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 15 or 20 minutes, until the dish is bubbly and browning on top.

Remove from the oven, drizzle with the truffle oil, and sprinkle with chopped chives as garnish.

 

[box type=”bio”]MAC ‘N’ CHEESE NOTES

  • When using fresh lobster, you can boil it a day ahead of time. For this recipe you will need two lobsters. You can add the tail meat, as well as the knuckle meat, into the pasta, or you can freeze for use later.
  • We chose to use shell shaped pasta instead of the traditional penne because shells come from the sea like lobsters — and they hold the cheese sauce better. [/box]