Baked Whole Lobster with Green Goddess Butter

The point of baking a whole lobster in its shell is that it cooks in its own juices, cooking just long enough for the shell to cook through and fill the lobster meat with flavor, but not long enough to toughen the lobster. For cooked lobster to remain tender it needs to be subjected to only gentle heat and low temperatures.

Use either a covered grill or an oven, but in either case, cook the lobster on a fireproof tray or baking sheet.

Ingredients

  • 2 2-pound live Maine lobsters
  • ¾ cup green goddess butter
  • 6 ounces capellini pasta
  • ½ cup mushroom hash
  • ¼ cup chopped tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ pound green beans (haricots verts variety)
  • 1 small celery root, peeled, cut in ⅛-inch sticks
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Kill the lobsters as explained, let them sit for 10 minutes, and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Meanwhile, insert a ¼-inch tip with a circular end into a pastry bag and fill it with the green goddess butter. Squeeze three quarters of the butter into the head cavities through the hole made to kill the lobsters. Make another small hole in each of the four claws (if the claws are too hard, make a hole in the joint between the claw and the arm), and fill each claw equally with the remaining butter.

Put the lobsters on a tray or baking sheet, then put the tray in the oven (or on top of the grill and then close the top) and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the oven off and let the lobsters sit in the turned-off oven with the door open.

Meanwhile, boil the pasta in salted water until tender (5 to 8 minutes), lift it out with a strainer, and put it in a metal bowl. Add the mushroom hash, tomatoes, and 2 tablespoons of the butter. Season, toss gently together, and keep warm over hot water. Cook the beans and celery root in the pasta water for 5 minutes. Drain and put them in another bowl with the remaining butter. Season and mix until the butter evenly coats the vegetables.

When the lobsters are just cool enough to handle (with a towel), put them upside down on a table or cutting board. Using a large chef’s knife, cut lengthwise exactly down the centers of the lobsters. Save any juices in a small bowl and add them to the pasta.

Remove the stomach, head sac, and intestinal tract from the tail. Loosen the tail meat and turn it so that the red skin side faces upward, putting each lobster tail in the shell of the other so that the tails fit in this other direction. Put the pasta in the head cavities, the vegetables on top of the pasta, and pour any butter left in the pasta and vegetable bowls over the tail pieces.

Variations

Serve with boiled fingerling potatoes mixed with the celery root and green beans, all tossed with fresh black truffle butter; with cooked lentils added to the pasta; or with a grilled portobello mushroom hash mixed with ⅓ its volume of cooked sweet Italian sausage chopped very finely and put on top of the vegetables. To be fancy, take the claw meat out and put it on top of the vegetables and then put the sausage-mushroom hash on top of the claw meat. The simplest variation is to coarsely chop up ½ cup of fresh lovage leaves and toss them with the pasta, 2 tablespoons butter, and 2 tablespoons of coarsely chopped Italian parsley.

,