Downeast Cooking Tips that “Tug” on the Christmas Lobster

No matter how you prepare them, Maine lobsters are a gourmet treat any time of year.  But at Christmas, lobster is often celebrated as the Christmas Eve dinner main course.

For some hungry family members,  the bigger the Christmas lobster is, the better. A few  jumbo lobster recipe cooking tips may help.

In just a few days Christmas Eve chefs all across the country will boil, steam, bake or grill Maine lobster.  But cooking those jumbo lobster to satisfy family members can be tricky.  Care must be taken not to overcook, or the meat will toughen. Under-cook a jumbo lobster and the lobster will not have its succulent flavor.

Given this challenge, even experienced cooks may be surprised to learn that that the lobster antennae can play a role in helping chefs determine when a whole lobster is cooked and ready to take out of the steam pot.

A steamed lobster with antenae

A tug on steamed lobster antennae can help tell chefs the lobster is ready

Steve, a former Downeast Maine lobster fisherman who now lives in North Port, Florida, recently shared with Lobsters-Online an experience he had with jumbo lobster. He says timing how long a big lobster cooks is not always accurate as those on the bottom may cook faster than those on the top.  To double check if  a lobster is done, Steve firmly stands by the practice of giving a pull on the lobster antenna.  If the antennae pops off easily, the lobster is done. If it stays on, the lobster needs to cook a little longer.

“I have cooked thousands of lobsters of all sizes.  Giving a slight tug on the antenna has worked for over 50 years for me.”

“I was a lobster fisherman back in the 70s,” Steve said.  “I have cooked thousands of lobsters of all sizes.  Giving a slight tug on the antenna has worked for over 50 years for me.”

Steve said once for his birthday  at a restaurant he ordered a giant 13-pound lobster for himself and a 10-pound lobster for his sister.

“When the waitress brought them to my table I gave the antenna  a slight tug and the whole lobster came with it,” Steve said.  “I told the waitress that they where not cooked and asked her to take them back and have them cook them some more . The cook then came out to my table with the manager and he told me that if they cook it anymore that it will be tough.”

 

Steve said he then broke the 10-pound lobster open  and showed everyone that the meat was not fully cooked.  The manager apologized and took them back to cook some more.
“I told the manager about the antenna on the lobster breaking loose when it was done,” Steve said. “He came back to my table with the lobster and I gave the antenna a tug and it came off . I opened up the lobster and cut a piece of the tail and gave it to the manager and he agreed that it was tender and that it was cooked just right .”

 

The Jumbo lobsters were delicious, he said.

 

“Cooking lobsters according to time tables does not work all the time and they can be raw or become over cooked,” he said, adding that it is also important to move the lobsters around in the pot to make sure they cook more evenly.

 

A Traditional Christmas Eve Baked Stuffed Lobster Tail Recipe Sure to Please

For families all across the country, the traditional Christmas Eve dinner is celebrated with lobster as either the main course or a first course. This year, for many chefs,  baked stuffed lobster tails will take center stage.

Here is a traditional baked stuffed lobster tail recipe, courtesy of Chef Christopher Russel of Boothbay Harbor, Maine.  Russell is a former Maine Lobster Council Chef of the Year.

baked stuffed Maine lobster tail on a plate

Traditional baked stuff lobster tail (Maine Lobster Council).

Be sure to select fresh, live Maine  lobster. Hard shell lobster are best as the tails will be larger and more succulent.  The dish is easy to prepare and is always sure to please all your guests.

Plan on one  1-1/2  pound-lobster per person, or if convenience dictates,  fresh or frozen lobster tails may be purchased instead of whole live lobster.

INGREDIENTS:

(4 servings, cook time 20 minutes,  preparation 25 minutes, total meal in 45 minutes)

4 live Maine lobsters, each 1-1/2 pounds *
8 Tablespoons butter
2 Cups finely chopped onions (about 2 medium)
4 Tablespoons  fresh parsley finely chopped
2 Teaspoons Old Bay seafood seasoning
4 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 Cups Ritz crackers crumbled (6 ounces)

DIRECTIONS:

Boil salted water in a large kettle or pot. Cook the whole lobsters for 5 minutes. Remove lobsters and place in an ice water tub to cool.  Crack and pick the meat from the claws, knuckles and body. Chop lobster meat into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. Split the tails lengthwise down the center with a sharp knife, being sure to keep the shell-side of the lobsters facing up. Make sure to keep the shells intact. Remove the tail meat from the shell and remove the intestinal track from the meat. Then carefully insert the whole tail meat back into the shell.

For the stuffing, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onion. Sauté until soft. Stir in the parsley, Old Bay seasoning and lemon juice. Remove the skillet from heat and let cool. Stir in the chopped lobster claw and knuckle meat. Gently add in the cracker crumbs and stir. Using a spoon, add the the stuffing into the lobster tails. Refrigerate the lobster tails until ready to bake. When ready, preheat the oven to 425-degrees .  Bake the tails until the stuffing is golden and crisp,  about 15 – 20 minutes. Serve immediately with wedges of lemon and let the dinner party begin!

NUTRITIONAL:

Per serving:

658 calories

46 grams protein

37 grams carbohydrates

36 grams fat

1196 mg. sodium

2 grams fiber

* Instead of whole lobster, the dish may also be prepared with frozen Maine lobster tails. Boil water and just blanch the tails and carefully remove the meat, leaving the shell intact. Substitute 16 ounces of raw Maine crab meat or shrimp instead of the lobster knuckle and claw meat. Sauté the crab meat or shrimp with the onion and finish preparing the stuffing and the lobster tails as directed.

© Lobsters-online 2014

 

Pan Roasted Christmas Eve Maine Lobster Dinner an Italian-American Family Tradition

The Christmas Eve Maine Lobster seafood dinner is an Italian-American holiday tradition that is immensely popular in New England, so much so that serving wonderful seafood dishes on Christmas Eve has been embraced by people of all heritages. The historic seven-fish dinner has given way over the years to include elaborate spreads of cold shellfish such as oysters, clams and of course shrimp. But the starring role in the Christmas Eve celebration is now reserved for fresh Maine lobsters prepared any number of ways.

Pan roasted Maine Lobster Dinner Recipe

Pan Roasted Lobster

My neighbors always prepare several lobster courses on Christmas Eve with the favorite a pan roasted lobster flavored with Bourbon and served sizzling hot  in a creamy butter sauce.  Pan roasted lobster is a little tricky to prepare but with this favorite recipe the flavor is explosive and your family and guests will love it.

This favorite pan roasted lobster recipe allows the potent bourbon flavor to mingle wonderfully with the sweetness of the lobster. The use of fresh chervil imparts a hint of anise flavor to the lobster as well. And pan roasting lobster gives it a surprisingly tender texture.

For best results, you will need a large, heavy iron sauté pan or deep skillet, metal tongs and a large chef knife.  Make sure to use fresh, live hard-shell Maine lobster. Care must also be taken not to place the lobster pan too close to the heat in the oven or broiler.

The Christmas Eve pan roasted lobster recipe can be served as a main course for two or as a first course for four.

Pan Roasted Maine Lobster for Two (Based on Summer Shack Chef Jasper White Recipe)

  • 2 live, 2 pound hard-shell Maine lobsters (must  be hard shell)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 shallots (1 ½ ounces),  diced
  • ¼ cup bourbon (or cognac)
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced small and chilled
  • 1 tablespoon chervil finely chopped  (substitute parsley and tarragon mix if not available)
  • 1 tablespoon chives finely chopped
  • sea salt (or Kosher)
  • freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the broiler or oven as hot as possible (550F). Position the oven rack in the upper third of the oven.
    1. Kill the lobster by splitting them lengthwise. Remove any tomalley and roe found. Cut off the claws where the knuckle meets the carapace. Cut the lobster halves into quarters. Including the claws, you will now have 6 pieces of each lobster. Place the pieces shell side down on a plate.
    2. Place the tomalley and roe in a small bowl and use a fork to mash into small pieces.
    3. Place the 12-inch pan over the highest stove surface heat possible. Allow the pan to heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the peanut oil and heat until it forms a film on the pan. Slide the lobster pieces, shell side down, into the hot oil. Using tongs, move the pieces to sear the shells evenly.  Hold the lobster pieces m with the tongs and press the shells into the hot oil to sear. The claws need to be seared on only one side. When the shells have all turned bright red, which should take no more than 2 minutes, turn the pieces over. The oil will also be beautifully red tinged. Add the tomalley and roe to the pan.
    4. Place the pan in the oven. If using the broiler, cook for 2 minutes. If using the oven, cook for 3 minutes. The shells should be slightly browned, even a bit charred in places.
    5. Remove the pan from the oven and return it to the stove at maximum heat. Turn off the oven and put in your serving plates in to warm. Remember, the handle of the pan will be red-hot and will stay hot until the dish is complete. To avoid burns, wear oven mitts.
    6. Add the shallots to the fat in the pan and stir. Add the bourbon and ignite. Shake the pan until the flames die down. Add the wine and let the liquid in the pan reduce.  Turn the heat to low.
    7. Quickly remove the pieces of lobster and place, shell side down, on warm plates. Try to “reconstruct” the lobster so that it looks similar to a split lobster. Arrange the claws so that they lean into the center of the lobster.
    8. Return the pan to the heat and add the butter, chervil and chives. Swirl or stir the butter in the pan to create a creamy sauce.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Spoon the sauce over the lobster pieces and serve at once.

 

Note on wine pairings: Champagne and other sparkling wines pair beautifully with shellfish and lobster dishes that have butter.  They work well with notes of anise, ginger and mild curry, as well as toasty flavors from breadcrumbs or nuts. Try a top of the line champagne with your pan roasted lobster.

© Lobsters-Online 2014

Thanksgiving Lobster Recipe with Seasonal Nutmeg and Chestnut Flavorings

No holiday is more New England than Thanksgiving. The holiday dinner is based on Pilgrim lore.  So adding  a first course of steamed Maine lobster served in the shell with nutmeg vinaigrette and chestnut puree would add a wonderful dimension to the Thanksgiving tradition.  Not to mention being a big hit for guests and family.
Happy Thanksgiving from Lobsters Online
The lobster recipe is from Boston celebrity Chef Todd English who is on the record for being a big fan of Thanksgiving day lobster.  The recipe first appeared in Food and Wine Magazine.  It is recommended that the nutmeg vinaigrette and chestnut puree be prepared the day before.  The lobster recipe calls for 10 1-1/4 pound live lobsters steamed, and then halved with the lobster meat served in the shell.
Steamed lobster on a cutting board

Steamed Lobster

The recipe will serve 20 people.
—————————————————————
  • MAKE-AHEAD
  • 2 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • shallots, minced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Two 15-ounce cans whole chestnuts packed in water, drained
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 large scallions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Ten 1 1/4-pound steamed lobsters, halved
  • 1/4 pound mixed young salad greens 
  1. In a large saucepan, combine 1 cup of the stock with the cider, shallots, bay leaves and sherry vinegar. Boil over high heat until        reduced by half, about 25 minutes. Add the heavy cream and nutmeg and simmer over moderate heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the vegetable oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until softened. Add the remaining 1 cup of stock and the chestnuts and simmer until the liquid reduces by a third, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the maple syrup and butter. Transfer the contents of the saucepan to a blender and puree until smooth. Blend in the crème fraîche. Transfer the puree to a clean saucepan and season with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.
  3. Gently reheat the nutmeg vinaigrette. Add the scallions and parsley and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cut the lobster tail meat into 1-inch chunks and replace it in the tail sections of the lobsters. Spoon half of the chestnut puree in the center of each of 2 large platters. Arrange the lobster halves around the puree. Spoon the warm nutmeg vinaigrette over the lobsters, garnish the platters with the greens and serve at once.

MAKE AHEAD The lobster recipe can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight. Finish the vinaigrette and rewarm the chestnut puree before serving.

SELECTING A WINE The natural saltiness of lobster, as with any seafood, will amplify the flavor of a big fruity Chardonnay.  Go with a first course Chardonnay that is gently touched with fruit, and mostly un-oaked.

Lobsters-Online.Com