Have you ever just cooked a certain food for the sake of saying you actually went through with it? This summer I did just that with some of my girlfriends by cooking lobster. I think this might be a rite of passage for any good Bostonian, considering they are in abundant supply on this coast. That being said, it’s something that most people don’t want to “shell” out for on a regular basis – that’s what makes it special. Rachel Roberts ran the whole operation, from creating the awesome boil to helping us break those darned shells…and let me tell you, this was a messy occasion. No cutesy silverware or dainty garnishes – this is food as it was meant to be eaten: with your hands. Lots of napkins and laughter are key to any good Lobster Broil.
Many classify lobster dinner as a “high society” meal, when in fact this wasn’t always the case. Before the 19th-century, lobster was relegated to use as fertilizer, fish bait, and prison food (and the inmates hated it). It wasn’t until the twentieth century that restaurants began to seek out this delicacy. While it can be incorporated to any number of dishes (like Lobster Mac and Cheese!) boiling is the most popular method. To get the most out of your lobster, you can’t just toss them into a pot of plain water – the flavor comes from that boil! Rachel went above and beyond expectations with this recipe. She divided the stock between two large stock pots (since she doesn’t own a massive lobster pot), and each was brimming with potatoes, corn, and kielbasa – not to mention beer! The best part about is that you can eat all of those gorgeous add-ins at the end – making it literally a “one-pot meal”.
The most difficult part of cooking lobster is…well, cooking the actual lobster. A word of caution: this is not a recipe for the faint of heart, as you will be placing a live lobster into a pot of boiling hot water. That being said, you will definitely find yourself more willing to go for it with friends around – Rachel attributes this to a friendly “group peer pressure.” There’s no doubt that strength comes in numbers, and we were all laughing and rooting each other on throughout the process. Still seem a little overwhelmed? This How-To Post by Simply Recipes outlines the process beautifully. My advice is to keep on smiling, and remember just how delicious it will be after the fact…
Ah, we’ve finally reached the food! Lobster meat is some of the most expensive seafood you can buy, and the process of actually getting to the meat makes the cost all the more understandable. It is delicious, whether on its own with a pat of butter or folded into a rich risotto. We went for the former, with butter and seasoning to spare. I am more of a hot sauce girl myself (a credit to my Southern roots!) As crazy as this meal may seem, I’ve found that the most enjoyable food is the kind that gives everyone a chance to “be involved” – considering we were all covered in shell pieces by the end, this was a perfect example. Click HERE to see the secrets behind New England lobstah!
As Rachel and I were discussing the musical pairing, the one word I kept coming back to was chaotic. It is certainly worth it by the end, but can be a bit of an involved process leading up to the actual meat. With that concept in mind, Rachel suggested the perfect piece: Peter Maxwell Davies’ Orkney Wedding, With Sunrise. It’s roughly 14 minutes in length, and depicts the “chaotic” atmosphere often connected to wedding ceremonies. The composer explains it himself:
“It is a picture-postcard record of an actual wedding I attended on Hoy in Orkney. Each event in the music, then, describes something that happened. At various points the flute, the clarinet, the oboe, the bassoon, and, most especially, the violin call the tune; various harmonic and orchestrational adventures depict the consequences of the consumption of whiskey. Finally the bagpipes are heard at the back of the hall representing the steadying, sobering dawn.” – Peter Maxwell Davies
These mini episodes can be likened to the various stages of cooking a lobster – avoiding the claws, getting the lobster into and out of the pot, and the laborious process of cracking the shell. Just when you feel like throwing out the lobster cracker, you reach the meat and a bagpipe heralds your victory! (Not really, but wouldn’t that just be the coolest thing?) You can finally sit back, relax, and reflect on the whole occasion as you dip claw meat into a fresh bowl of melted butter. Just like a wedding, there will always be another time – yet you will feel all the more prepared for this enjoyable meal, “chaos” and all 🙂
“Orkney Wedding, With Sunrise,” Wikipedia.com
“Program Note: Sir Peter Maxwell Davies: An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise” Toronto Symphony Orchestra