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All We Can Eat
Posted at 08:10 AM ET, 07/19/2011

Smoke Signals: The shell(fish) game


The secret to superbly grilled lobster is boiling the crustacean first. (Dayna Smith/The Washington Post)
In tomorrow’s Food section, Smoke Signals goes to seafood grilling school. Actually, I go to the home of seafood chef and grill enthusiast Barton Seaver , where I take notes while he cooks. Which is like going to school, except you get to eat the lesson plan.

The story provides various techniques for grilling and “light-smoking” seafood. But, because of space restrictions, I left out one of summer’s greatest grilling pleasures: lobster.

Well, what the word-count taketh away, the blog giveth.

Before getting to Seaver’s method, I want to point out that there are several ways to cook lobster on the grill. After boiling the crustacean for a minute or two, you can cut it lengthwise in half, brush it with olive oil and:

* grill the whole thing directly over a medium-hot fire, meat-side down, for about three minutes, then turn it over and grill it another two minutes, shell-side down.

* grill it over the medium-hot fire of an indirect set-up (burning coals on one side, nothing on the other) for a couple of minutes, shell-side down, then move the two halves to the cold side of the grill, meat-side down, close the lid and cook them for about eight minutes over medium heat (about 325 degrees).

* smoke the lobster by placing it shell-side down on the cool side of an indirect grill, and using smoldering hardwood — applewood for a sweet, mild flavor or hickory for a more woodsy flavor — at medium heat (about 325 degrees) for roughly 12 minutes.

All of these methods keep the claws attached to the lobster’s body. Seaver says the claw meat takes more time to cook than the rest of the lobster, especially inside its shell. So, this is his method:

1. Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil.

2. Start an indirect charcoal fire in your grill. Add about four fist-sized chunks of hardwood. On the day I visited, Seaver used hickory. Allow the wood to burn to a gentle fire (no leaping flames).

3. Plunge the lobster head-down into the pot of boiling water. “If you put it in tail-first, it’ll splash hot water at you,” Seaver says.

4. Keep the lobster in the water for no more than two minutes. “You just want to set the meat, not cook it,” he notes.

5. Turn off the heat under the pot. Tear off the claws and toss them into the hot water and let them sit for five minutes. “That will cook them through nicely,” Seaver says.

6. Take a knife and stab the point into the mid-section of the lobster’s shell and cut lengthwise through to the tail. Then cut in the opposite direction through to the head.

7. Remove the “sand sack” at the top of the head, a small circular area about the size of a quarter, which is filled with grit. Spoon it out and throw away.

8. Take the claws out of the water. Crack them (and the knuckles), open and pull out the meat (preferably intact).

9. Brush the lobster meat with olive oil and season with salt.

10. Place the lobster halves meat-side down directly over a medium-hot fire and the claw and knuckle meat farther from the heat. Cook for two or three minutes.

11. Turn the halves over onto their shells and place them so they’re touching. Place the claw and knuckle meat atop the lobster halves. Cook for another minute or two.

12. Squirt the meat with lemon juice.

13. Enjoy one of the great pleasures of summer.

By  |  08:10 AM ET, 07/19/2011

Categories:  Recipes, Smoke Signals | Tags:  Jim Shahin

 
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