Whole Lobster Cooked in Salt and Tarragon
This may sound crazy, but yes, you’re going to bury your lobster in sea salt, which, when baking, will firm a coat of armor around the lobster to seal in moisture and flavor. To me, the moment of glory is the sharp, percussive sound of the salt shell cracking beneath the blow of the knife handle-which of course you’ll want to perform in front of your guest! If you want to prepare 2 lobsters, use a rectangular roasting pan just large enough to fit both lobsters without crowding them, and increase the salt enough to encase the lobsters completely.
2 Appetizer Servings
Total Timeunder 2 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionCooking for a date
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Taste and Texturebuttery, herby, savory
- 1½- to 2-pound live lobster
- 6 cups (about) coarse-grained sea salt
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces fresh porcini mushrooms, brushed clean of any grit, halved lengthwise
- 3 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
- Fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Plunge the lobster headfirst into a large pot of boiling water and cook until the lobster is bright red, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, cool the lobster under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels.
Do Ahead: At this point, the lobster can be prepared up to 8 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Using an oval-shaped roasting pan just large enough to fit the lobster, cover the bottom of the pan with ½ cup of the sea salt. Set the lobster a top the sea salt. Pour enough remaining sea salt over to cover the lobster completely. Bake for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy medium saute pan over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms are golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the heat. Stir in 2 teaspoons of the tarragon. Season the mushrooms to taste with fleur de sel and pepper.
To Finish And Serve:
Using the handle of a heavy large knife, break the salt crust covering the lobster. Transfer the lobster to a cutting board. Remove the lobster tails and claws from the body. Crack the shells and carefully remove the tail and claw meat from the shells. Cut the tail lengthwise in half.
Place 1 lobster tail half and 1 claw on each of 2 plates. Top with the butter slices. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon tarragon. Surround with the sauteed mushrooms and serve immediately.
2005 Ludovic Lefebvre