What a glorious way to eat lobster tail! No need to tie on a bib and look like a goober with juice dribbling down your front side while you are dining on this colorful crustacean. Preparing it with this method absolutely and totally takes the mess out and makes it look as regal as it tastes.
I could kiss my local Whole Foods seafood department guy for teaching me how, but he probably already thinks I am a bit too ebullient, so I shall refrain.
Those of you in coastal cities probably learn to prepare butterflied lobster tail in kindergarten. We, your landlocked cousins, typically grow up deprived of such skills, but we aim to make up for lost time. Please don’t giggle at us as we learn, or you will be sorry when you need to ask us for tips on preparing calf fries. I’m just sayin’.
Forgetting how rich and satisfying just a small amount can be, I bought beautimous lobster tails that were 8 ounces apiece.
Heat up your grill. You want to get it to 400 degrees. There is always a question when cooking anything on a grill about whether you should cook over direct or indirect heat. In this instance, the bottom shell will help shield the butterflied lobster tails from the direct heat, so you put it on top of the direct heat and you’re doing it right.
But first — it’s time to butterfly! Using a pair of kitchen shears, I cut down the ridged, curved of the top of each tail, going all the way to the little flapper thingies on the end (you know, the tail part of the tail).
The next step involves sticking two fingers (pointer and middle) under the lobster meat on the bottom side of the shell and pulling it up through the crack and out until it sits up on top, leaving the inner shell empty enough that it would probably provide good acoustics if you wanted to sing into it and if you weren’t way too busy cooking. The lobster meat may need to be coaxed up and out, but it is totally doable.
If your grill is at the proper temperature, it’s time to watch the miracle of the color-changing lobster tail as the fiery red color of the cooked shell appears. Place your tails onto the grill with the shell side down (lobster meat up). Cook for approximately 8 to 10 minutes, or until the lobster meat turns a beautiful opaque white. [If your lobster tails are smaller, do not cook as long. Try halving the time and eyeball the meat. If it still looks a little clear or gray, it isn’t ready yet.] Top with a pat of compound butter. If you don’t have time to make it yourself, Kerry makes a lovely garlic herb version that is ready to slice and use.
Don’t dawdle once the grilling is done. The table should already be set, the beverages poured, the side dishes ready, so that the lobster arrives on the plate hot, steam, and aromatic.
No need to serve with a bunch of sides. What’s the adjective that goes with elegant? Simple. We had a salad and some slices of cooked sweet potato. Well, okay, so we used a combination of traditional sweet potato and purple sweet potato, because they look so lovely together. Can you blame us? The tail, however, was clearly the star of the plate.
You can do this under the broiler in the oven, if you prefer, but you will need to adjust the timing and it will depend upon how close it is to the broiler, etc.
Contrast the showstopping presentation of the butterfly method with the alternative boil or steam method used on the small lobster tails below. The curly little things below (I think I had boiled these) look more like crawdads, for heaven’s sake!