Image
Picked up two really lovely lobsters last night.  I was planning on recreating the first real thing I ever cooked outside of my house. It was an Emeril recipe which had me stuffing lobsters with ritz crackers, butter, and some parsley.
When I was in college, it was at the height of Emeril’s Fame.  Me and my buddies would watch him quiet regularly. After watching him stuff these lobsters with a combination of ritz crackers and butter, I mentioned to one of my friends that I would be able to do that.  He disagreed and the story begins.


I went to school at the University of Maryland. It was crab town for certain, you could not walk into a restaurant without seeing crab on the menu or things covered in Old Bay. Lobsters however, were harder to get.  We eventually took a trip into D.C where we found a fish market. We purchased perhaps 6 lobsters and we were on our way back to campus.

Once we got back to my apartment, the betting began.  Being that the majority of my friends were degenerate gamblers, no opportunity passed us by. They set up a mini racetrack and the betting began.  After a few races and a few beers, it was time for me to prepare the lobsters.  I had in the past thrown lobsters into a pot of boiling water but, killing a live lobster was a different ball game.

Image

There are two methods in which one can kill a lobster outside of tossing into boiling water.

1)You can hold the torso in one hand, the tail in another. Keep the torso hand steady while grabbing and twisting the tail until it detaches from the body. This is very effective if you are cooking for numerous people and only require the tail for a certain dish.  You can rip the lobsters in half and separate the bodies from the tails.  You can later go back, further separate the claws from the bodies, boil the claws and make stock with the bodies

2)The other method being taking a knife and bringing it down between the eyes of the lobsters.  You push through its head and the poor guy is gone.It will move around a bit but, rest assured, that thing is as dead a Dillinger. You can obviously flip it over and do the same thing but, i like the going from the top of the lobster.

So I used the cut the lobster in half method.  As a college kid, our kitchen was incredibly limited to say the least. I am sure at the time, the kitchen was equipped with one of those generic knife blocks. The one that has lots of useless and cheap knives. After the lobsters had their run, I tossed them in the freezer.  Placing lobsters in the freezer for 15 minutes or so, changes their temperament. The expression, chill out comes to mind.

I placed the sucker on the cutting board and delivered the swift blows. It was pretty intense. It was not the first time I had gotten so up close and personal with my food but, it certainly stands out in my memory.  I think from this dish and this experience was where my cooking began as a college kid.  I ended up splitting all 6 lobsters and applying the ritz and butter stuffing. It was the best lobster I have had up into the point in my life. Of course it was because I made it.  The recipe itself is super simple and pretty good. The crunch from the cracker adds a different texture and adding butter to a ritz cracker doesn’t hurt either. But, the main thing was, I did it myself.

I have gone through several stages while cooking for people.  And though, when we cook for other people we are a lot more “sophisticated” our same philosophy is intact. Don’t do anything to an ingredient that doesn’t make it taste better than having it plain.  Meaning, don’t add ritz crackers and butter to a lobster if, it would be better if you just left it alone and boiled it.  Often times that is the case, chefs or cooks get caught up in the process behind a dish, they get caught up in a sauce or a technique.  And often times the technique or process is very impressive but, it does not make the dish better.  I am sure you need to be very smart in order to make lettuce powder but, is it going to taste better than an actual leaf of lettuce, it rarely if ever does.

So, as I was standing over these pretty lobsters with my knife in one hand and a box of ritz crackers in the other, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.   I ate a cracker and threw the lobster in the pot.  It was much better that way.  In the pot of water I had salt, leeks, bay leaf, a little pepper, and a carrot. This added a little brightness to the meat.  My favorite way to boil a lobster is in seawater but, the Hudson River is not going to cut it.

Before I boiled the lobster, I placed a couple of potatoes in the oven.  The way I bake a potato is, I cover the potato in olive oil, then I roll it in kosher salt, and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. I then turn the temp up to 425 until the outside is crisp and the inside is cooked.  I added sour cream and bacon to the potato.

You want to be relaxed when you are going to handle a lobster. If he knows you are nervous, then he will get nervous. Beer is an important part of cooking

Image

Here are the remnants:

Image

The lobsters were great.  It is always a good time when you get to sit in the comfort of your home and enjoy some messy food. We clarified a couple of sticks of butter and we just went to town.  You know it’s a super high quality lobster when no butter is needed. these guys needed some butter.

In addition to the lobsters and potatoes, I made a friend of mine a tray of eggplant parm. She is a vegetarian and she just had a baby. I may have had a couple last night as well as this morning and about 5 minutes ago.

Image

Image

Not a bad present, i think.

Advertisements