How to Cook a Lobster Feast at Home
For many years of my life, every summer brought a trip to Maine. Beginning way back in 1992, when I visited my older sister, Jill, who was spending all summer at sleep-away camp (the all-girls, electricity-free enclave in Poland, Maine, where my mom had gone) and ending in 2010ish, when the last of my best-friends-forever camp buddies finally gave up their counselor positions to get “real jobs,” I made the drive, and occasionally, the flight, to the best state in the union. The cold mornings, calm lakes perfectly suited for waterskiing, and goofy camp antics are what comprise the bulk of my memories.
As for the food? Well, camp cuisine isn’t all that enticing, but every Wednesday we went out for homemade ice cream, and at the end of each summer, the camp treated us to an enormous lobster feast, and those two eating events were awesome enough to make up for the rest. Years when I wasn’t a camper bound to campus, we always made a point of heading off site, to Harraseeket, in Freeport, where we ordered lobster feasts: fries, corn, fried clams, and just-cooked local lobsters. We put on bibs, cracked the shells to reach the meat, and dipped every bite in drawn butter.
Imagine, then, what it’s like to be a person who adores Maine, who makes up for days of brown bag lunching by breaking the budget at Ed’s Lobster Bar on a regular Wednesday, and who has never cooked her own lobster. That’s a stretch, eh? But that’s me. Or, that was me.
That’s why it’s something of an epiphany to find out that lobsters are more affordable than they used to be, and that they can be shipped, live, across the country by FreshDirect, the sponsor of this post. (Check them out here. They’re hosting a Lobster Party and have launched the first-ever Lobster Hotline [1-844-4LOBSTA] to help answer your lobster prep questions, provide recipes, and tell lobster jokes.) To eat a really great lobster, it turns out, you don’t have to be on the coast of Maine. You can be in your kitchen in New York City or wherever. Only difference: you are now responsible for sticking a live Homarus lobster (that’s the substantial kind we get here on the East Coast in summer, with sweet meat and easy-to-crack shells, which FreshDirect sends straight from the Maine docks where they’re brought in) into boiling water. This, however, was nowhere near as frightening as I thought it would be. Water boiling, lobster in, lobster out, and done. I shuddered for maybe a second when I grabbed those poor doomed crustaceans, but I got over it long before I made a much more comfortable plunge, of sweet lobster tail meat into melted butter.
Which is all to say that the result–truly fresh lobsters paired with corn, salad, steamers, and butter–made for a jovial and kind of epic weeknight dinner that took me both back to childhood evenings in Maine and forward to new planes of seafood deliciousness.
This post is sponsored by FreshDirect, who provided lobsters and compensation. Check out their sale on Homarus lobsters from Maine, and don’t miss tips for prepping lobster and recipes from Chef Anne Burrell at freshdirect.com/lobsterparty – also, follow along with #FDLobsterParty. Rirst time customers can get $25 off a $75 with the code FDLobster.* Thanks for supporting the sponsors that keep Big Girls, Small Kitchen delicious!
An At-Home Lobster Feast
To make sure your seafood stays fresh, you’ll want to do a few things when your delivery arrives. Place the clams gently in a large bowl or pot and cover with water. Swish in a lot of salt or flour. Cover and place in the fridge til ready to eat. For the lobsters, the thing is: don’t remove the bands from the claws. Store the lobsters wrapped in slightly damp paper in the fridge. Use them as soon as possible–within 24 hours is best. If you do need help with cracking but don’t own crackers, try using poultry shears.
2 live Homarus lobsters
1 1/2 pounds steamer clams (optional)
3 ears fresh local corn
1 ripe tomato
1 Kirby cucumber
4 tablespoons high-quality salted butter
Bring a huge pot of water to boil, big enough to hold the lobsters. Set a second medium pot to boil too. Finally, put just 1 inch of water in a pot that fits a steamer basket and set that to boil. (If you don’t have a steamer basket, don’t worry. Just pull out a third pot.) This may seem like lots of pots! But everything happens at once, so this is a case where I endorse doing a few extra dishes in order to prevent spilling boiling water on yourself.
While all the water comes to a boil, shuck the corn and discard the husks and silks. Break each ear into two pieces (to fit better in the pot; skip this step if you have a second enormous pot).
Dice the tomato and the cucumber. Mince the shallot. Combine the vegetables in a small bowl, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. This is your salad, in case you weren’t sure why there were veggies in this meal. Set aside: it’ll get better with time.
Finally, melt your butter in a small pot or in the microwave. Keep warm.
When the huge pot of water is boiling, add the lobsters to it. Don’t think. Just put them in there. You’ll be okay. Boil for 10 minutes, until they’re bright red. Use tongs to take the lobsters out of the water and into a bowl. Set that in the sink and run cold water over it until the lobsters are cool enough to handle.
Carefully place the steamers in the steamer basket and set that in pot #3 (the one with 1 inch of water). Cover, and turn down the heat slightly. Cook 5 to 10 minutes, until all the shells have opened. Watch to make sure the water doesn’t bubble out of the pot – this sometimes happens. When done, gently transfer to a serving bowl. Strain the broth at the bottom of the pout into a dipping bowl.
While the steamers are cooking, add 2 tablespoons of salt to pot #2, then add the corn. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, until bright yellow. Drain and place in a bowl.
If the butter’s still in the pot, pour it into a small bowl. Arrange the corn, the lobsters, and the little bowl of butter on a large platter. Set out the salad, the steamers, and the steamers’ broth.
Put on a bib, start cracking the lobsters, and eat! To eat the steamers, pull one out of its shell by the black tube that sticks out. Run it through the broth to eliminate any sand, then dip in butter. Enjoy!
*$25 Off Offer is a limited-time offer for first-time residential customers in the FreshDirect delivery areas. Expires on 9/30/2014. May not be combined with any other promotion code. Valid only for your first order. Valid only for orders totaling $75 or more before taxes. $25 is taken off first order. Limit: one per customer/household. All standard customer terms and conditions apply. FreshDirect reserves the right to cancel or modify the offer at any time. Void where prohibited. Offer is nontransferable. ©2014 Fresh Direct, LLC