I’ve cooked a lot of things people may consider unusual. I grill sweetbreads covered in a balsamic glaze. I sear tasty pieces of foie gras to top filet mignon. I’ve even been known to have beef or chicken liver for lunch. But I’ve never cooked a whole, live lobster before. Until now that is.
We don’t have easy access to live lobsters here in California like we do other seafood. Live lobsters aren’t at my grocery store seafood counter waiting to be taken home like shrimp and scallops are. Sure, once in a while there are lobster tails there that I’ll pick up to throw on the grill. But, I hadn’t ever considered tracking down live lobsters to cook at home because it just wasn’t convenient. Then I found out I could have live Maine lobsters delivered to my door the day I wanted to cook them by lobster.com.
I could hardly contain my excitement for about 15 minutes. Then I became terrified about what I would actually *do* with the two live lobsters that were on their way to my kitchen. Cooking them seemed easy enough. According to the University of Maine Lobster Institute I could boil, steam, or grill them all with fairly equal effort. But would I be able to kill them? Or even touch them? I’ve never killed anything bigger than a grasshopper before and I tend to be overly sensitive to the feelings of other creatures. If there was an option to keep them around for a while, I may have named them and let them live in my bathtub. Luckily the directions from lobster.com tell you to cook your lobster
friends dinner the day it arrives so, I was forced to cook them quickly. Along with my lobster, I also got a couple of fresh oysters to sample. So, I decided to make a dinner that consisted of all things that people must have been really hungry to eat the first time based on how they look: lobster, oysters, and artichokes.
Lobster, Oysters on the Half Shell, and Steamed Artichokes with Balsamic Butter
- Two artichokes
- 1/2 lemon
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- Pot with steamer insert large enough for two whole artichokes
- 2 tbsp butter
- 4 tsp balsamic vinegar
- garlic salt to taste
- Two lobsters
- 1/4 cup sea salt
- large stock pot with pasta insert
- 2-4 tbsp butter
- 1/2 lemon
Take the butter out to let it come to room temperature before preparing your dinner. When the butter is soft, take 2 tablespoons and mix with the balsamic and garlic salt. The butter and vinegar won’t completely mix but the flavors will blend. Serve this butter in one ramekin for dipping the artichoke leaves and hearts. Save the rest of the butter to melt and serve with the lobster.
For the oysters, I recommend just topping them with a bit of lemon juice and a squirt of your favorite hot sauce. But you can also use cocktail sauce and horseradish for a traditional preparation. Serve them on a bed of ice to keep them chilled.
Start with the artichoke as it will need the longest to cook. Put a couple of inches of water, the juice of half a lemon, the rind from that half of lemon, 2 tablespoons of sea salt, and two bay leaves in the pan and bring to a slow boil. Meanwhile, trim the artichoke. Once the water and artichokes are ready, place the whole artichokes in the steamer insert and cover with a lid. Let them steam for about 45 minutes.
Approximately 30 minutes before you want to eat, bring 2 inches of water with the 1/4 cup of salt to a boil in a stock pot. Place the pasta insert in the pot and cover with a lid. Bring your box of lobsters over to the stove and get ready to quickly move them into your pot. You want to keep the water boiling to maintain the temperature so you don’t want to have the lid off of the pan for too long. Pick up each lobster by the body and place it head-first in your pot. If they don’t fit immediately, don’t panic like I did. You can curl their tails and move their claws around so they will fit. Once they are in, put the lid back on and let them cook for the time indicated on the insert you receive with your lobsters. My lobsters were 1.5 pounds each so I cooked them for a total of 9 minutes.
At the end of the cooking time, the lobsters will be bright red and the tails will be curled. Pick up the lobsters with your hands, using a towel or oven mitt so you don’t burn yourself, and move them to a colander for one minute to allow any water to drain from the shells.
While the lobsters are draining, melt the butter you reserved at the beginning and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve this butter in a second ramekin for dipping the lobster meat.
After a minute or so has passed, follow the directions in this video to crack the lobster shells and get to the meat. Place the meat, the ramekins, and the whole artichoke on a plate and enjoy. Make sure to place a bowl on the table for the discarded artichoke leaves.
This meal will take close to an hour to prepare but the end result is delicious and impressive. I was very surprised that the lobster meat actually tasted better than any I’d had in a restaurant before. After the first bite I had no remorse for my kills!