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Cooking with Fire

Cooking With Fire: Grilled Lobster Tail


Lobster tail is considered a delicacy by many these days, and certainly not something we think of eating as a quick lunch, or for multiple dinners in one week, but this wasn’t always the case.

In fact at one point in our history, lobster was so abundant that it was considered to be “poverty food.” American indentured servants were fed lobster so often that they renegotiated their contracts saying they would only have to eat lobster three meals a week.

Up until the early 1800s, lobstering was a simple task gathered by hand on the shores of Maine. As the country expanded, the demand for lobster grew, and in 1892, 2,600 lobstermen caught over 7,000 metric tons of lobster. Today, while the number of lobstermen has grown considerably, the growth in the amount of lobster caught each year has slowed. In 1989 there were 6,300 Maine lobstermen who pulled just over 10,000 metric tons of lobster out of the water. This is a drop of nearly three pounds of lobster per lobstermen in less than a century.

But never fear: Lobster is still easily available even here on the plains - you’ll just pay a bit more per pound than your ancestors would have 100 years ago.

In this episode of Cooking with Fire, we talk about the interesting history of lobster gangs, as well as give you a recipe for grilled lobster tails with a cold-smoked compound butter.

Grilled Lobster Tail with Compound Butter

Ingredients, for the lobster tails:

  • 4 lobster tails
  • kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper

For the compound butter:

  • 4 oz European style butter, room temperature
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • zest of 1/2 a large lemon
  • kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper

To make the compound butter, bring the butter to room temperature. Add the minced garlic and lemon zest. Season with kosher salt and fresh ground back pepper. Mix well. Place the butter on a sheet of plastic wrap, in a log shape. Wrap the plastic around the butter, and roll tight. Store in the refrigerator until set up and ready to slice pats.
Preheat your grill to high heat (450ºF+), set up for direct grilling. Using a very sharp knife, or kitchen shears, cut down, lengthwise, through the center of the top of the lobster tail shell. Slice down through the meat, but not through the bottom shell. Press the tail flat, so the flesh can all touch the grill at the same time, but both halves are held together. Loosen the flesh from the shell, but keep it attached at the tail end. This will allow the butter to melt down around the flesh, but hold the butter in the shell. Season the flesh with salt and pepper.

Grill the lobster flesh side down until you have nice grill marks. Flip over, shell side down. Slices pats of the compound butter and place over the flesh of the lobster. Allow the butter to melt as the lobster finishes cooking. The lobster is done when the flesh is opaque (140ºF internal temperature).