Highly prized for it’s tender delicate meat, the Maine lobster is somewhat of a holy grail for chefs and cooks all over this country. They reside on the rocky bottom of the cold Atlantic along the US eastern seaboard as the name might suggest. They have a large dominant right claw used to crush their food or their enemies (unsuspecting chefs included) – whichever the case might be. While the culinary uses of the Maine lobster a widely known and exploited, the creature outgrows it’s tail meat after reaching a pound. In other words, the larger the lobster is, the less tail meat there is.
This leads me to seek out the Maine’s poor relation – the humble Rock Lobster, extolled in song by the B-52’s. Sold as tails (they have no claws) they are easy to find, inexpensive and heaven on the barbecue. I recently stumbled across a 6 pack of these tails at my local Costco and was immediate overtaken by the desire to get these home and grill them.
Here’s how to prepare them once you find them. Being careful of the spines – which incidentally can poke you pretty good and with some added lemon juice can make you wince in pain and get your eyes to watering – hold the tail by the thick part, away from the tail end. Using kitchen shears, cut through the shell almost to the tail. Take a chefs knife and cut along the opening you just created through the tail meat almost to the bottom where it’s little feet are. This allows you to butterfly your tail making it a perfect match for your grill.
Take enough basil to thinly slice for all of your lobsters (about one big leaf for each one), a clove of garlic or two – minced, and the fresh juice of a lemon and sprinkle it into the cuts you made for your lobster tails. Let them set for about 30 minutes. If you are into heat, you can drizzle your lemon juice over a sliced habanero pepper and strain it on to your lobsters.
While the lobsters are soaking up that delicious concoction, melt a stick of butter with another minced garlic clove, the juice from another lemon, a splash of dry white wine and a few more slivered basil leaves. This is your basting liquid. You need to baste these tails because they WILL dry out if not handled with care.
If you haven’t already done so, prepare your fire in your grill. We want a hot fire – a four count. Place your hand over the fire and hold it as long as you can stand it. If you can count to four without pulling away, your fire is ready.
Go and get your lobsters and your baste. Open the lobster up. Don’t be afraid to crack it open enough for it to lie flat on the grill. Baste it with a little of your butter and place it on the grill, flesh side down. Leave it there for about 5 minutes. It should hold it’s shape after this.
When they’ve nicely colored and they are ready to turn – after about 5 minutes – flip them back over and let the other side cook through the shell. Baste the meat frequently with your butter. Let this cook for another 5 minutes. They should be a bright red color.
These are so simple to prepare and so delicious I don’t know why I don’t grill them more often. They are real crowd pleasers. And if you have any left over the next day, you can easily pull the meat out, chop it up and make lobster rolls or lobster quesadillas. Serve them with lemon wedges and clarified butter for dipping. I’ve used lime wedges here, but that’s because I was doing a mexican take on them. You are only limited by your imagination!