Monday, December 28, 2009

Warm Weather Decadence on a Cold Winter Night

I'm in love with lobster. It's a cliche, I know, the most typical luxury food out there, but I just don't care. Throw it in the pot, dip in in butter, make it a bisque, plunk it on a roll, I will eat that expensive crustacean and smile while doing it. Last winter I was in luck, a crazy lobster glut led to the NY Times telling me that I could get myself a cheap lobster, and I think I had one in the bag about five minutes later, at a cool $7.95 a pound. This winter there was no such wave of cheap lobsters, and my plans to splurge on some at Thanksgiving were thwarted when I realized I didn't know of a fish shop open that particular day. Storing them overnight without a giant saltwater tank on premises is generally frowned on. Apparently a bathtub and the Morton Salt Girl just wont do the trick.

This frustration over the unavailability of affordable lobster is compounded as I have recently discovered Luke's Lobster in the East Village, a new tiny "lobster shack" specializing in lobster rolls. They grill the buttered bread and slather on mayo and old bay and pack your roll full of a tantalizing amount of lobster, all for $14, and only $16 if you want chips and a soda. This is a tiny bit more then I would usually spend on a weeknight dinner, especially one I have to order at a counter and perch on a stool to eat, but they are heavenly, and according to everyone who knows NY lobster rolls $14 is "a deal" so I just bless my good fortune and fork over the cash. I've done this more then once. It's really good. And then I think, "I should prepare this at home, then I could eat it even more" and I realize even the most affordable fish shops wont go any lower then $9.99 a pound. Over the summer the July Gourmet magazine arrived with a gorgeous lobster roll right on the cover, and so it has been six months of torture, wanting to create this delectable dinner for myself.

Back in PA for Christmas I made a massive pork roast for a table full of people, the compromise I had made with my mother led to a promise that I wouldn't do anything "complicated" after a rather eventful year. Apparently I have a reputation of creating gastronomic labyrinths and getting lost in them. If you can think of a better way to meet David Bowie, I'd like to hear it.

On Boxing Day I went over to a neighbor's for brunch and enjoyed a delicious strata and made french toast and it was a delicious comfort food brunch, but not what I would call a culinary challenge. That night, however, my mother mentioned that across town at the market "Food Town" they were offering live lobster.... $5.99 a pound. Yes there was a tiny bit of a ridiculous rain storm. Yes some of the roads were more flooded then was strictly comfortable. But after months of eating one lobster roll for $14 and wishing I could have two, of staring at lovely pictures of cooked crustaceans heaped on a hot dog roll, of cursing the prices on tank after tank of lobsters that I wanted to go home with me, I was getting my Christmas wish. I was going to make and eat lobster rolls. For all of that desire, I am not difficult to please when it comes to prep and seasoning. For a future lobster adventure I may add some scallions and parsley and such, but this time I just wanted the basics.

Lobster Rolls
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine


4 - One and a quarter to one and a half pound live lobsters
1/2 cup mayo
1 tbsp lemon juice
6-8 Hotdog rolls
Old Bay
If you're feeling crazy, scallions, dill and chives all came up in my research. Go nuts.


Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Plunge two lobsters headfirst into the pot and cook, partially covered, over medium high heat for 8 minutes (if it's a bigger lobster go 9 minutes). Transfer with tongs to and ice bath and let stand until completely cooled. Return water to a boil and cook remaining two lobsters.

Remove meat from claws, joints, and tails. Carcasses and shells can be saved for lobster stock if you are so inclined. Coarsely chop the meat. try to keep some of the red claw meat in tact, as it is very pretty in the bun.

Whisk mayo and lemon juice in a small bowl (if you were adding herb, you would mix those in as well). Butter inside of rolls, then grill face down in a grill pan (regular skillet will do if you don't own crazy pans like I do. If it's summer and you don't live in an apartment, you could use an actual grill like the smug suburbanite you are). Once toasted, spread mayo/lemon juice mixture on the bun. The alternative is to toss the lobster meat itself with the mixture, but Will is not a mayo fan so I did not do this. Then stuff with lobster, and sprinkle on Old Bay to your own person taste. (For Will I sprinkled lemon juice right on the lobster, then sprinkled the Old Bay over that.)
The result is a decadent and yet casual dinner, and there's plenty of meat for seconds. On a rainy December evening, it held the allure of sitting on a dock in August, just the mini culinary vacation we needed after the stress of the holidays. Now my lobster craving is sated, which should last at least, oh, a week.


April Cavin said...

So great that you got your Christmas wish!

Catalina said...

That is such a great recipe!
I love the story of your lobster quest
It's really funny - we just ate lobster last night.
It was a great meal, even though my Dad threw out the pot water. I'd only told him 5 times that I wanted it for stock!

Anonymous said...

Have you been to the Lobster Pound in Red Hook? One of the best deals in NYC. You can get enough lobster for 4 (they say 4, but it fed 6 for us) for $40, including buns and sauce!

Epicurette said...

I've never been. I'll have to round up another couple and do a double date!

ghkoay76 said...

Wow....I want lobster too =)

Karine said...

Great lobster rolls! It seems delicious :)

Happy Holidays!

Mari said...

Ahhh...memories from Maine came to my head! Love it!
Ex New York girl.

Anonymous said...

The recipe looks great. I will definitely give Luke's Lobster a try!

Post a Comment