LOS ANGELES, February 11, 2014 — The most important ingredient when cooking for someone on Valentine’s Day is LOVE, but a dish like fresh lobster will leave that special someone hungry for more.
Here is the skinny on lobsters so you look like a pro if you take the challenge of cooking them:
How to buy them: Lobsters can be bought whole alive or just as tails that are frozen. The common weight is 1-1 ½ pounds, which is called a chicken lobster because of the size. You can find larger lobsters, but they tend to be tougher. Beware, most people can’t tell the difference between male and female lobsters until they get home and cut into them. If you do have a female with eggs, just scrape them off.
One thing to avoid in a fresh lobster is a “sleeper,” or a lobster that has been kept in the tank for so long that it is unable to hold up its claws. They are near death and should be avoided at all costs.
Types of lobsters: The most common lobsters on the market are Maine lobsters. They have two claws, one larger than the other, and are a reddish-brown color, turning bright red when they are cooked. There is also the spiny lobster, which does not have claws but rather a meaty antenna. They are found on the west coast rather than the east coast.
Cooking: A lobster must always be alive, or freshly killed, when cooked or frozen as the potent enzymes in the digestive tract begin decomposing the meat immediately upon death.
Most of the time lobsters are dropped in the pot alive and die during the process of cooking. Some cooks think it more humane to use the tip of a knife to cut just behind the head, severing the neck, before dropping them into the pot. Lobsters can be cooked in plain water, or you can add a variety of ingredients like onion, peppercorns, bay leaf, parsley, lemon, wine, garlic, etc to add to the flavor.
It’s up to you.
Prepping to be served: First, use your knife to cut into the tail and claws so when your guests attempt to break open the shell, they can do it with ease. Serve your lobsters with an empty bowl on the table, crackers (similar to nut crackers), a pick (a utensil to get into the small shell areas with ease), and paper towels.
Serve: Lobsters are delicious with salted butter, cocktail sauce, sourdough bread, potatoes and asparagus.
Lobsters are an amazing main course and they create a crazy fun night. Remember this simple advice when you’re embarking on this challenging dish for your special someone: As long as you put everything you’ve got into the dish, you’ll be fine and, if not, just don’t forget the wine.
Two 1-1 ½ pound live lobsters
1/2 pound salted butter
1 yellow onion
½ tsp black peppercorns
3 garlic cloves smashed
½ cup of white wine (any will do)
Enough water to fill a large pot
Fill a large pot with water and wine (you want enough to cover the Lobsters). Peel and quarter the onion and add the onion to the pot, as well as two garlic cloves and peppercorns. Bring the pot to a rapid boil.
Add live lobsters. DO NOT CUT THE BANDS OFF THE CLAWS UNTIL AFTER THEY ARE COOKED.
Let water come back to a boil and the cook for 12-15 minutes. Take the lobsters out and let sit.
Take two sticks (1/2 pound) of butter and place in a pot with one clove of garlic (smash with the back of a knife). Heat over medium low flame until all the butter is melted. Let simmer on a low flame for 2-3 minutes. Pour into small bowls and serve with lobster.
“Chef Jake Jacobus’ Massachusetts Lobster Boil”
Lobster Bag containing
1 to 2-pound fresh lobster
2-3 small new potatoes, sea salted.
Vidalia onion pieces
Rockweed seaweed (fresh lobster should always be shipped with sea weed)
Half sea water/half fresh water (can substitute fresh water with sea salt, one cup salt for every 5 gallons of water)
Behind the scenes, place the potatoes and onions in the bag, placing the live lobster on top and secure the bag. Drop the bags into rolling boiling water.
For a large group, Chef Jake used 8-gallon pots, dropping 20 bags into each pot and boiling for about 20 minutes.
When the bags are “cooked,” transport out to the front lawn in the pots with a small amount of water in the bottom that, put onto a burner, provided a warming steam for the lobster and vegetables.
Plate by removing the lobster from the bag and clipping the claw bands. Using a shard knife crack the claws and tales and place on plate with vegetables. Each setting requires a cracker, bib and wet naps!
Brewster, MA 02631
Atlanta’s Tap – Lobster and Pumpkin Risotto
Carnoroli rice: 1 cup
Onion: 1 ea
Chicken stock, brought to a boil and kept at a simmer: as needed
Butter: to coat pan
White wine: 1/2 cup
Melt butter in saucepan and sweat onion. Add rice and over medium heat for one minute stir rice to coat the grains with the butter. Add white wine and when the wine is almost completely gone add roughly 8 ounces of hot chicken stock. Stir with a wooden spoon for a minute or two. Your risotto should not look dry at this point and should not be boiling. It should be a gently bubble to soft simmer. When the pan looks risotto looks like is drying up add more hot chicken stock and keep repeating until the rice is cooked with only a small bite left in the individual grains. At this point you will begin to add the finishing touches.
Butter: 8 tablespoons
Parmesan cheese: grated 1/2 cup
Pumpkin puree: 10 tablespoons (see recipe that follows)
Chanterelles, cut in small pieces and sauté: 1/2 cup
Bacon lardons, crisped: 1/3 cup
Chicken stock, hot: as needed.
Lobster, par cooked and removed from its shell: Four 1.25 pound lobsters
Add all garnishes to the rice and look for a cream wavy texture. If it looks to thick you can add a little more stock to create and waviness.
1 can 16oz pumpkin pieces
1 cup heavy cream
Reduce cream for 3 minutes on stove. Add pumpkin pieces and blend in blender until smooth. If you have a drum sieve pass puree through for a more smooth texture.
1180 Peachtree Street
Atlanta, GA 30309
For more great cooking tips, recipes and stories from
Chef Mary, visit her website at marypaynemoran.com
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