SIMPLE STEAMED LOBSTER
aka FRIENDS AND FAMILY LOBSTER
This is how I like lobster – sitting outside by the ocean surrounded by friends and family. The traditional way to eat lobster is everyone gets a single lobster then puts on their bib and struggles to extract the meat before their cup of melted butter gets cold. I prefer to steam lobster en masse, taking advantage of all the extra helping hands when I’m hosting guests. The idea is to prepare as many lobsters as possible then sit outside and pick the meat out as a group – saving it to use later. People are excited to roll up their sleeves and pitch in, and everyone ends up feeling this great sense of accomplishment as they get better and better at it. I’ve done this with groups of six, and groups of twenty. It’s always a good time.
You end up with a massive amount of clean lobster meat that’s perfect for rolls, salads, stews, or pretty much anything else you can think of.
It also brings people together twice – once for the cooking/picking of the meat and again later at meal time.
I like to plan 2-3 lobsters per person because A. getting the meat out only gets easier once you know what you’re doing and B. you’ll end up with enough leftover cleaned lobster meat to keep everyone happy for days and C. you’re in Maine! Go for it.
An outdoor propane cooker is the way to go here, preferably one fitted with a strainer basket inside the giant pot (all of The Gills Group cottages are equipped with one). Fill the pot a little less than a quarter of the way full with heavily salted water. You want them to steam, not boil. Cover the pot and bring to a full rolling boil. While the water heats up, lay out your lobsters and one by one and cut the rubber bands from their claws. Be careful! When they’re fresh (like they are in Maine) they’re a far cry from the lazy glazed creatures you see in restaurant tanks. They will be feisty!
At this point, some people will want to leave…
and some may want to have lobster races.
Quickly and carefully place the lobsters head first into the pot and replace the lid.
"When they're fresh (like they are in Maine) they're a far cry from the lazy glazed creatures you see in restaurant tanks. Beware...they will be feisty!"
You may have to hold the lid in place. They will thrash. They may make noise. It won’t last long if you’ve got a good boil and the lid stays tightly on. Return the water to a boil and let them steam for about 10-15 minutes until the shells are bright red. It may be a bit longer the more lobsters you have, but once they’re red, they’re ready.
Lift out the straining basket and let the lobsters cool. Get a large bowl (or two) for the clean meat, and drain the water from the pot. Gather your crew outside on the deck/porch/lawn and arm them with lobster crackers. This is messy work best done outdoors within reach of a hose. You will be sticky and stinky when it’s all over but that’s part of the fun.
HOW-TO GET INTO A LOBSTER
Once they are cool enough to handle, grasp the tail firmly in one hand and the body in the other. Twist apart, draining any liquid inside. Set the tail aside.
Twist off the claws where the knuckles meet the body. The claws, knuckles, and tail are where most of the meat is. You can suck the meat out of the little legs but it’s more novelty than nourishment. Use the large cooking pot to collect the shells as you go.
Pull off the tail flippers one by one. When they are all gone you should be able to slip your thumb inside and carefully press out the tail meat. Collect all of the meat in a large bowl.
Next, use a cracker on the knuckles. Don’t forget about these – they can yield a surprising amount of meat.
Open the claw and break it with the cracker at its widest part. Crack it again toward the tip then use your finger or a small pick to push out the meat.
It gets soo much easier as you go, and in no time you have a mountain of lobster meat, and a huge pot of stinky messy shells. Carefully throw the shells back into the sea (not onto the rocks, and definitely not in the trash) then immediately wash the pot with soap and hot water. Believe me, you don’t want to wait a day to do this.
Put the lobster meat in a colander and rinse – cleaning off any nasty bits until you have a heaping mound of fresh clean lobster meat. Chop the meat into bite-sized pieces – leaving the occasional small claw intact and getting rid of any bits of shell.
You’ve now got mounds of clean lobster meat and your options are endless.
SMOKEY LOBSTER STEW (coming soon)