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Stuffed Lobsters alla Scampi...Just For The Two of You

(February 14, 2008)
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Angie asked Lauren:

Dear Lauren,

My husband is coming home from a business trip on Thursday (which is Valentine's Day) and I want to prepare a really special dinner. I was thinking of making lobsters but I've never done this and I'm a bit nervous. I've read that it's best to kill lobsters right before you cook them and, quite honestly, I am not looking forward to killing them myself. Do I really need to and, if not, how far in advance can I buy them already killed and ready for cooking? Thanks for your help. I feel like a total novice with this, so forgive the nervous tone in my question to you.

Lauren says...

Well, your husband is sure in for a real "Valentine's Day Treat!" You certainly don't need to kill lobsters yourself since your fish monger will be happy to do this for you. It's true, though, that it's best to go to the fish market as close as possible to cooking time, but you can have the lobsters killed several hours ahead, just keep them very cold. The best way to cook lobsters, when killing them in advance, is to have them split and opened (like a butterfly). This is actually my favorite way to prepare lobsters. After splitting them, I stuff them with an incredibly savory mixture and then I roast them until done. The important part to remember, when having a lobster killed in advance of cooking, is to ask the fish monger to remove the intestinal vein that runs down one side of the tail meat. This is because, if left in place, the lobster meat could become mushy. This is especially true if the vein becomes ruptured. However, when cooking a lobster right after being killed the vein should not adversely affect the texture of the meat. Anyway, relax, and enjoy a lovely, romantic meal with your hubby. Here's my favorite recipe for Stuffed Lobsters alla Scampi.

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Stuffed Lobsters alla Scampi...Just For The Two of You

Yield: serves 2, can be doubled

stuffed lobster

Eating lobster is a truly sensual, hands-on experience (especially when it's just the two of you). So, to help remove inhibitions, dim the lights, ignite the candles and place two finger bowls, filled with tepid lemon-water, on the table. Oh, and if not using lobster bibs, don't wear silk! Remember to have an extra set of napkins close by...

    For the Lobsters:

  • ½ cup (lightly packed) finely crushed buttery crackers (I use Ritz), from about half of one sleeve of crackers
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup finely chopped scallions, (use the white and 1½ inches of the green)
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • ¼ rounded teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon strained fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 rounded tablespoon chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • Optional stuffing embellishments: 1/3 pound large shrimp, shelled, deveined and coarsely chopped, or 6 ounces jumbo lump crabmeat, or 4 thin slices of pancetta (unsmoked bacon), fried until crisp, drained and crumbled
  • 2 lobsters (1½ to 2 pounds each), split for broiling and claws cracked (see the sidebar)
  • Suggested Accompaniments: lemon wedges, nut crackers, and melted whole butter or Clarified Butter

1) To make the savory crumb topping: Crush the crackers into fine crumbs using either the food processor fitted with the steel blade, or place the crackers in an opened heavy-duty freezer bag and roll over them with a rolling pin. Place the crumbs in a bowl. Melt the butter in a 10-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat and, when bubbling, add the minced scallions, garlic, and pepper flakes, if using. Sauté the vegetables until softened, 2 to 3 minutes, then stir in the lemon juice, salt and black pepper, to taste. Stir about half of this mixture into the crumbs along with the chopped parsley and more pepper to make the stuffing. Set aside. Transfer the remaining scampi butter to a small bowl. If adding shrimp, heat the same skillet, over medium heat, with 2 teaspoons of the scampi butter. When hot, raise the heat to high and stir in the coarsely chopped shrimp and cook, stirring constantly, until they just loose their raw look, about 1 minute. Transfer the shrimp to a bowl and season them with salt and pepper, to taste. If using the crabmeat, just place it in a bowl and season the meat. If using the crumbled bacon, stir this into the prepared seasoned crumb mixture.

2) To stuff and roast the lobsters: Line a large shallow baking sheet with aluminum foil (shiny side up). If very wet, pat the split lobsters dry and place them, opened and flesh side up, on the baking sheet. Brush the flesh and cracked claws, liberally, with the reserved scampi butter, spreading the lobsters open, so the flesh is completely exposed. Make sure to snip through the tip of the fan-shaped tail, with scissors, to help keep it from curling in the oven. Sprinkle the flesh lightly with salt and liberally with pepper, then fill the cavities with the sautéed shrimp or the crab meat, if using. Top this, generously, with the seasoned crumbs.

Position the oven rack to the upper third shelf and preheat the oven to 400°F for at least 30 minutes. Roast the lobsters until the meat is tender and the stuffing is hot throughout, 15 to 18 minutes, depending on their size. If the lobsters are done before the exterior is golden and crisp, run them under the broiler, taking care not to let the crumbs burn.

To serve, place one whole lobster on an individual plate and serve immediately, with lemon wedges and hot melted butter. (Don't forget the lobster bibs, nut crackers, cocktail forks, finger bowls and extra napkins!)

Time Management Tips:

  • Lauren LogoThe cracker crumbs can be made days ahead and stored in a sealed plastic bag.
  • The stuffing can be made early in the day and kept at a comfortable room temperature, covered.
  • The lobsters can be killed and stuffed, a few hours ahead (preferably not longer than 4 hours) and kept refrigerated, covered.



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Lauren Groveman recipes have been featured in many national magazines and local newspapers. Her books "The I love to Cook Book: Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking for Family and Friends" and "Lauren Groveman's Kitchen, Nurturing Food for Family and Friends" are available through Amazon.com.

For in depth information on Lauren Groveman as a writer, teacher, TV & radio host, as well as her recipes and cooking tips visit her website at www.laurengroveman.com

Lauren is a Larchmont resident. She is happily married and blessed with three wonderful children.