cheffed-up

Lovely Little Monsters

Treat yourself to a treasure from the sea

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One of my favorite pleasures is a delicious, properly cooked lobster. It’s almost a crime that I’m not blessed with this indulgence more often, yet no lobster is preferable to poorly cooked lobster. Lobster is one of the top luxury foods, but if it’s prepared by some hack-handed shoemaker, you’re better off without. You read of my last encounter with a lobster whose life was wasted by an inept hack calling himself a cook—what a nightmare!

When I speak of lobster, I mean Maine lobsters, aka sweet, succulent joy. There are actually two categories roaming our little blue ball: clawed true lobsters and clawless spiny lobsters. The clawed category, which is unparalleled in deliciousness, has two members: 1. American, also called Canadian, Maine and North American; and 2. European, sometimes referred to as blue lobster (preferred by snooty French chefs).

The European group thrives in cold, shallow seawater with plenty of rocks to offer cover from predators. And who might be their biggest predator? That would be us! Yep, humans. It’s a good thing, too, because otherwise the population will grow until it becomes unsustainable and the crawly epicurean treats are forced to turn to cannibalism. The only things that save the creatures from a horrific fate are hungry, hungry lobster lovers. It’s awesome to be able to save the planet and nosh on what’s served in heaven at the same time. LIFE IS GOOD!

Now that we good Samaritans have harvested crustaceans, we must treat them with the respect the oceanic gems deserve. Most important, crustaceans must be cooked live. Once dead, bacteria immediately begins breaking down the flesh, making the meat mushy and inedible. Plus, dead lobsters truly stink.

There are many proper cooking methods; steaming and boiling are most popular. Both are acceptable techniques as long as you don’t overcook. If you boil them, make sure to use a court bouillon just as you do with shrimp. But don’t just boil—you’re way more fun and Cheffed-Up than that! Try butter poaching the succulent meat à la Thomas Keller, or go easy and grill the lovely little decapods.

Enjoy this simple recipe and remember: If you don’t eat them, they’ll eat themselves. Having them for dinner is a selfless, delicious act!

Chef Bill’s Grilled Lobster

Ingredients

• 2 Maine lobsters, 1 pound each
• 6 oz. butter, room temp
• 1 tsp. coarse sea salt
• 2 tbsp. parsley, chopped
• 1 tbsp. basil, chopped
• 1 tbsp. thyme
• 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 tbsp. lemongrass, minced
• 2 lemons, zested
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 2 gallons of water with 1/2 cup distilled vinegar

Directions

1. Combine butter with herbs, pepper, garlic, lemongrass and zest.
2. Blanch lobsters one at a time in boiling water for 2 minutes. Shock in an ice bath to stop the cooking. (And helps release meat from the shell.)
3. Break off claws and crack the shell with the back of a chef knife. Split the lobster in half lengthwise. Scrape the tomalley from the heads.
4. Drizzle lobsters with oil. Place on a medium-hot grill, meat side down. Grill two minutes, flip and spoon butter on the meat, allow the lobster to cook just through.

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Email Chef Bill Thompson, owner of Fernandina’s Amelia Island Culinary Academy, for inspiration and to get Cheffed-Up!

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