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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

How To Cook and Open A Lobster

 

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Today was a really fun day! Tonya, a good friend of mine, went with to shop for seafood. I think she was somewhat surprised to see me stick my hand right into the lobster tank.

This is one of those posts that may not be easy for everyone to read.  Most all shellfish should be alive before cooking.  This makes it really hard for a lot of people to handle. BEING HUMANE IS KEY!

I’ve worked for many years cooking and handling lobsters, blue crab, shrimp, mussels, and clams. The fresher the seafood, the better the finished dish is going to be.

The Lobster Institute has come up with a study. The study reads… lobsters, like insects, do not have complex brains that allow them to process pain like humans other animals do. They have compared it to when you kill a mosquito. Cooking a lobster, in the practical sense, is like killing a big bug.

Let’s get back to cooking and opening a lobster. Once I bring the lobster(s) home, I make sure they are kept in the bag with some crushed ice. You want to cook them as soon as possible. Before placing them into the pot of boiling water, I put them to sleep. This is something I learned when I worked at a seafood restaurant.

Place the lobster face (head) down on a counter, tail end in the air. Cross their arms and claws, then rub the back side of their shell, in an up and down motion. In about 45 seconds, their legs and antenna will stop moving. The lobster will then be asleep.  Balancing on their heads, by themselves on the counter. If you want to see how this is done,  just google “How to put a lobster to sleep”, and there are videos available.

I make sure that the water is salted, with sprigs of fresh tarragon, and at a hard boil. Next,  I place the sleeping lobster, head first, immediately into the boiling water. You’ll notice that the lobster is not totally submerged. I prefer to let steam and water cook the lobster. Place a tight-fitting lid on the pot. Using a dish towel, I hold on to the lid for about 10 seconds before letting go.

Below is a peek to show you how I do this.

In a very large stock pot, I place water and tarragon into the water. On high heat, I bring the water up to a hard boil. I place the sleeping lobster into the boiling water then place the lid on, holding it with a towel for around 10 seconds.

Once cooked, I lift the lobster up using large tongs to release any excess water the lobster may hold, back into the pot. Next, I place the lobster into a large plastic container to cool before removing the meat.

Once cooled, first I take off the rubber bands from the claws. I remove the arms with the claws. Next, I twist off the tail to release from the body, also known as the thorax. I discard the thorax.

There are two ways to remove the meat from the tail. First is to bend, in a backward direction. Now the very end of the tail meat is showing. Use a pair of scissors and cut down the inner side of the tail to release the meat. The other way is to squeeze to tail together until you hear the back side snap. Turn the tail over, where the underbelly is facing in the upwards direction. Using two hands, split the tail open.

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There is a piece of that needs to be removed on the outer side of the tail meat. It’s really a bit fibrous, just discard. You can see above, the indention it leaves on the backside of the tail meat. The tail is now clean and done. Next, the claws.

This is where a good pair of lobster crackers is needed. Even a meat mallet comes in handy. One of the claws in larger and harder to crack than the other one. You may need some help with that one, that’s why I mentioned using a meat mallet.

Lay a towel over the larger claw and hit it one time. That should put a crack into the claw and make it easier to remove the meat in one piece. When using the crackers, be careful not to crack the meat, just the shell. The is to ensure the meat will come out in one piece. The arms, they can be a bit tricky, they have knuckles and meat can get caught.  If you don’t have a lobster pick, you can use a large skewer to help get that meat out.

How’s this for a finished dish! Great to take to parties. For this recipe, click on the link at the bottom of this post. The only change is, I incorporated cooked lobster to my recipe for Shrimp Scampi Over Linguine.

Lobster And Shrimp Scampi Over Linguine (1)

Equipment:
Large stock pot with lid (8 to 16-quart pot)
Cook Time: 8-10 minutes per pound (Cooked lobster should be vibrant red in color)
Prep Time:
Allow for time to put the lobster to sleep as explained above. 5-7 minutes to bring water to a hard boil.

Ingredients:
1 live 2-pound lobster
1-1/2 quarts of water
2 heaping tablespoons of Kosher salt
3 sprigs of fresh tarragon

 

Shrimp Scampi Over Linguine

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Lobster Mac & Cheese

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I’m pretty confident in saying, Mac and Cheese is the favorite comfort food for people of all ages. There are so many recipes out there from the classic version to endless variations of the classic. Chorizo and smoked Gouda, or how about butternut squash mac and cheese! The one I like to serve when entertaining is my Lobster Mac And Cheese. The lobster adds a delicate sweetness along with a variety of delicious cheeses and a flavorful crunchy topping complete the perfect recipe for Lobster Mac & Cheese.

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Prep Time: 1 hour (the time it takes to cook the lobsters for the casserole)
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Yields: 8 servings
Equipment: 16-quart stockpot, 2 6-quart saucepots, 9 x 13 casserole dish, 2 large mixing bowls, colander, Microplane

Ingredients:
4 cups of lobster meat, large dice (equivalent to approx. three 1 1/2 lb lobsters)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) of butter, unsalted, (4 tablespoons for greasing the baking dish)
4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
4 cups of whole milk, *scalded
1 teaspoon of nutmeg, freshly grated
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of corn (optional)
1 cup of Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup of Brie cheese, without the rind, diced
2 cups of Fontina cheese, freshly grated (reserve 1 cup for the top)
3 tablespoon of fresh chives, finely chopped
3 tablespoons of tarragon leaves, chopped
2 16-ounce packages (2 pounds) of cooked Paccheri Rigati, just under al-dente ( large rigatoni shaped pasta, substitute rigatoni)
Topping:
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups of Panko bread crumbs
3 tablespoons of freshly chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
3/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated

Directions:
Butter casserole dish.
For a 1 1/2 pound lobster, cook time is 15 to 20 minutes. Note: They need to be a vibrant red color when fully cooked.

Directions, How To Cook A Lobster:
Note: I prefer to cook lobsters one at a time.

Bring a 16-quart pot (a little over half filled) of well-salted water up to a rapid boil. Drop the lobster into the pot, quickly place the lid on. Using a towel, hold the lid in place for just a minute, giving the water a chance to come back up to a boil,  then start the cooking time. After about 15 to 20 minutes, remove the lobster from the pot and set aside to cool. Repeat this process two more times.

Boil 16 ounces (1 pound) of pasta just before the al dente stage, and drain. The pasta will finish cooking during the baking process.

Remove the lobster meat from the tails and claws. Chop the lobster meat into large chunks and place into a bowl.

Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.

In a large saucepot melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Continuously whisking the flour and butter to form a *roux. Cook, whisking constantly until the mixture becomes blond in color and paste-like, about 2 minutes. Again continue whisking while slowly adding the (*scalded) hot milk. Continue to whisk as the sauce thickens. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Sprinkle in the grated nutmeg, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, continuously whisking until sauce becomes thick and smooth. Remove from the heat, switch to a wooden spoon, stir in the chopped tarragon, finely chopped chives, grated cheeses, and corn (optional). Last, add the cooked lobster meat. Mix to combined.

Add the cooked pasta into the cheese sauce stirring gently not to break up the pasta. Pour the entire mixture into the buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle the reserved Fontina cheese evenly over the top.

For the crumb topping, add the melted butter to the Panko bread crumbs. Mix in the Italian flat-leaf parsley and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the top. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Allow the casserole to rest for 15 minutes before serving. This is my Lobster Mac & Cheese.

*Roux is a mixture of fat (especially butter) and flour used in making sauces

*Scalded milk is milk heated to a near boil. Small bubbles will appear around the inner rim of the pot.

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