There are many different ways to cook a lobster – grilling, roasting, boiling and steaming. This class taught the easiest method: boiling. After bringing a large pot of water to a rolling boil, we added in the citrus flavoring (different seasonings can be used, but our recipe called for lemons and limes to be squeezed into the water). Then we were ready for the stars of the show, so the kitchen crew brought out the lobsters. Now, a live lobster is not the cutest thing to look at, and with tails thrashing and legs writhing, there were a lot squeamish cooking students around the table.
Fortunately, the lobsters’ claws were tied together with rubber bands, so being pinched wasn’t a danger. More often than not, when you buy live lobster, their claws are bound (but make sure to ask, just in case). The trick is to grab the tough-shelled creature by its body when you pick it up, otherwise the thrashing tail can become quite a problem. Then, simply drop it into the boiling water head first. The easiest way to drop it is by its tail, quickly. Once in the water, lobsters take about 10 minutes to cook.
A couple of things to keep in mind when cooking lobster:
- Do NOT overcook the lobster. Take it out just before it’s done because it will continue to cook outside the boiling water for another 5 minutes.
- Lobster is fully cooked when the tail is stiff. When a lobster is undercooked, the tail is still flexible. If this is the case, pop it back in the water for another couple of minutes.
When the lobsters were done, we plated them and citrusy steam filled the air. We couldn’t wait to dig in, but first our instructors demonstrated the proper way to get to the meat. First objective: Cut through the tough exterior shell. We used lobster crackers to do that, but some students used cooking shears. (You can also use a knife to split open the shell.) Most of the meat is in the tail, claws and legs, and to get at it, you just twist each off and discard the rest.
Lobster is one of the messiest foods to eat—the juice squirts everywhere as you crack the shell—and it takes patience. But it’s all worth it because the reward is so delicious.
In fact, the whole meal was excellent, from the cheesy, creamy, crunchy gratin potatoes and charred spicy corn on the cob to the cherry peach cobbler with chantilly cream. A meal fit for kings—and hungry, lobster-deprived Midwesterners.