By Brooke Dojny
Lobster is an excellent candidate for grilling, either split live or parboiled. (I give detailed instructions in "Lobster!", my just-released cookbook, or consult another reliable source.) When grilled, the shells cradle the meat, creating a natural and spectacular-looking cooking and serving container, while at the same time offering protection from the intensity of the heat. The sweet lobster flesh is enhanced by the smoky grill flavor, and the red shells develop an attractive black char here and there.
GRILLED LOBSTER WITH BASIL-LIME BUTTER
You might start the meal with a plate of crostini spread with goat cheese and criss-crossed with slivered sun-dried tomatoes. Accompany the lobster with buttered corn on-the-cob, crusty garlic bread (give it a final toasting on the grill for extra flavor) and chocolate silk pie (recipe follows).
Servings: 4 (half a large lobster per person)
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons slivered basil
1 tablespoon lime juice
1½ teaspoons grated lime zest
½ teaspoon salt, plus additional for water if par-boiling lobsters
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 large (1¾ to 2 pounds) live lobsters, or 4 smaller lobsters
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Paprika for sprinkling
Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the basil, lime juice, lime zest, salt and cayenne.
Parboil the lobsters, split them, and prepare for further cooking or split the lobsters live. Parboiled lobsters can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours; split live lobsters should be cooked within about 1 hour.
Build a moderately hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
Rub lobster shells with the oil. Place on the grill cut sides up, brush meat with butter mixture and sprinkle with paprika. Cover grill lid or place a shallow metal roasting pan over the lobsters. Cook, without turning, brushing once or twice with more flavored butter, until the meat is a creamy opaque white but still juicy, 10 to 15 minutes if raw, 8 to 10 minutes if parboiled. (If using smaller lobsters, they will take less time to cook.)
Transfer to a platter or serving plates, brush with more of the butter, and serve with lime wedges.
CHOCOLATE SILK PIE
This classic chocolate cream pie is exactly the right thing after a grilled lobster dinner. The filling nestles in a toasty graham cracker crust and is smooth as silk and deeply chocolatey.
GRAHAM CRACKER CRUMB CRUST:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (see note)
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
½ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1½ cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
6 egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1½ teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
1 teaspoon dark rum
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the crust, combine the crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a bowl and stir with a fork until blended. Press evenly into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate. (The back of a spoon or the bottom of a glass works well.) Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven until deep golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Fill immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.
Heat the chocolate in a microwave, checking and stirring every 30 seconds until melted and smooth. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, salt and cornstarch. Whisk in about a third of the milk until smooth. Stir in remaining milk and cream, place over medium-high heat and cook, whisking almost constantly, until mixture thickens and comes just to a boil, 4 to 5 minutes. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks.
Whisk about a cup of the hot milk mixture into the yolks to temper them, return yolk mixture to the saucepan, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan, until mixture comes almost back to a boil, about 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the melted chocolate, butter, coffee powder and rum. Stir for about 3 minutes to release steam and pour into the prepared pie shell. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 to 3 hours. (Can be prepared up to 8 hours ahead.)
Before serving, whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla to stiff peaks. Using a pastry bag with a star tip, pipe rosettes on top of the pie or spread cream in an even layer. Cut into wedges to serve.
NOTE: Graham cracker crumbs can often be found in the baking section of the supermarket. To make your own, break about 9 full-size graham crackers into pieces and whir in a food processor to make fine crumbs.
Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently "Lobster!" (Storey, 2012). She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at: