When you read everything involved in this dinner, you might blanch at the idea of trying it if you’re a one-pot-one-utensil-meal kind of person. And it’s true: this meal does use multiple pots/pans, the oven and the stove, and a strainer! Also, it may seem like there are a lot of steps involved, but the prep time is minimal for all the dishes. And I promise if you follow the methods as I describe them**, you will have an easy time of it and be rewarded with something delicious: Lobster Dinner!
Thirty-minute Classy Dinner
N lobster tails (fresh or frozen), where N = # guests not allergic to shellfish
Redskin potatoes (1.5 – 2 per guest)
shredded parmesan cheese
fresh or dried thyme and/or rosemary
1/3lb Asparagus per guest
Step 1: Thaw lobster. If you’re in a hurry, they’ll thaw in a couple hours in a bowl of cold water. Don’t microwave them, though. Once they’re thawed, I like to get out all the ingredients I’ll be working with, or mentally locate them so I don’t freak out when I’ve already started cooking something. Once you know where everything is, start boiling (lightly salted) water.
Step 2: Wash your potatoes and cut into 4 pieces for a big redskin, halves for a small one. Throw into the pot (it doesn’t matter if the water’s boiling yet or not). It’s going to take a while for these to be ready to work with, so now you can do your other prep! Wash and cut the ends off of your asparagus spears and throw into pan with sesame oil—this you’ll leave until you put the lobster in.
Step 3: Chop about 1.5 tbsp of butter/lobster tail into small pieces & set aside for the moment. Place the lobsters in a glass pan or on a cookie sheet on aluminum foil. Cut all the way down the midline of the bottom part of the shell with (clean is obviously preferable) scissors. Cut through two or three of the top shell rings in the middle. Place in the pan bottoms-up and sprinkle with lemon juice. Press your chopped butter cubes onto the top of the shell over where you cut it, and press one or two small pieces on the meaty end of the tail. (Note: this is not a low-cholesterol meal. Sorry.) Turn your broiler on and make sure you have a rack near the top of the oven. (REAL Note: Lobster tails curl up slightly while cooking, so make sure they’re at least four or five inches from the top.)
Step 4: This is the important timing part: check your potatoes, and when they are nearly done, put the lobster in the oven. This should be about 12 minutes after the water started boiling—if there is a tiny bit of resistance to the potatoes, they’re not done, and this is when you want to throw the lobster in. Anticipate the lobster taking about 8 or 9 minutes to be fully cooked through. (Don’t worry about the potatoes staying hot—I have it on good authority that they have a high specific heat.)
Step 5: After two minutes, turn your asparagus pan on to medium or medium-high heat. Cook as directed here. While the asparagus and lobster are cooking, check your potatoes again. As soon as they’re really soft, turn them out in your sink into a strainer (or drain the water in another method of your choosing), then put them back into the pot. Add a couple tablespoons of butter, a little bit of milk, and maybe 1/8 C parmesan cheese for every pound of potatoes. Pull the lobster out of the oven and turn over so they’re “upright” and put back into the oven.
Step 6: Stir or flip your asparagus spears to make sure you don’t burn them. Now, using a wooden spoon (or a fork if your pot isn’t non-stick), smash your potatoes by pressing them against the side of the pot—they should break apart really easily and be quite amenable to mixing up with your added dairy products. This will probably take about three minutes, after which point you should check on your lobster. What you’re looking for is for the meat that’s sticking out to be completely white, and the shell to be mostly red and probably tinged with a little bit of brown from the broiler. I know you’re cooking three things at one time, but dried-out lobster is not nearly as delicious as moist, tender, perfectly cooked lobster, so pay attention and take it out as soon as it’s done. An easy way to tell is to cut one of them in half (I know they’re pretty, but undercooked is also pretty… pretty bad) and make sure the inside is completely white—any translucency means it isn’t done yet.
Step 7: When your asparagus is done, turn off and move to a different part of the range—leave the lid on so they stay nice and toasty. At this point, everything is quite nearly ready. Make sure your potatoes are as mashed up as you’d like, and slice up some lemon wedges if you’d like. If you want MORE butter to put on your cooked lobster, melt a couple tablespoons into a small bowl for pouring/dipping.
Step 8: As soon as the lobster is white on the inside, you are done! Make sure there are implements on the table with which to crack open your lobsters (scissors make it really easy; forks work fine as well), and serve those bad boys up! There are enough colors in this dish that a nice presentation is straightforward. Or maybe Craig’s a genius. I think I’ll go with that. Enjoy!
**Acknowledgements: I called my dad when deciding how to cook the lobster. I organized the timing of everything, but all the wisdom involved in the creatures from the sea came from him. Thanks, Dad!