Appetizer Test Kitchen

Chilled Lobster with tarragon/ basil butter

Everyone loves a little lobster, well actually, they like a lot of lobster.  I grew up in New England so have seen every variation of this dish possible.   Watching people attack this red beast after it was boiled, grilled, broiled or poached is not so pleasant and it so bothered my parents they would cook and serve the lobster meat ready for the picking.

Lobster is a summer dish and I serve it chilled with a brush of warm butter on top and a bowl of lemon wedges.  I steam soft shells and boil hard-shells.

To steam, I put beach rocks in the bottom 4 inches of the pot and fill with


  • Six 1 1/2 pound New Hampshire (Maine if you have to) lobsters
  • Two shallots finely chopped
  • 16 tablespoons of butter ( 2 sticks)
  • 1 cup of chapped basil
  • 1/4 cup of chopped tarragon
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

The Tools

  • Large kettle
  • Wooden mallet
  • Kitchen towel
  • Lobster pick
  • Platter
  • Small sauce pan
  • Mixing tub

Making It

  • If hard shells, fill the large kettle with water and bring to boil with a cup of kosher salt.  If soft shells fill the bottom three inches of the pot with washed beach rocks and cover them with enough water plus one inch.  When water is on a rolling boil add the little crustaceans for 12-15 minutes or until they are bright red. No one likes overcooked lobsters.  (Depending on the size of your pot you should do 3 at a time)
  • When the lobsters are done submerge then in a large mixing tub of ice water to stop the cooking and make them more manageable for cleaning.
  • Get cracking!  It’s time to rip them from limb to limb.
    • Twist off the claws and separate at each joint then put the kitchen towel over and crack the shells with the wooden mallet, the remove all of the lobster meat but keeping as much of it in tact as possible.
    • Twist the tail off and clean any mess that might be there.  Take a sharp knife and cut it down the middle as picture above.
    • Rip all of the legs off.
    • Put all the meat in the refrigerator

Make Lobster Stock!  I take the bodies and put them in the cleaned out kettle, add one onion cut in half, 4 chopped carrots, 4 chopped celery sticks, 12 flat leaf parsley stems, 12 stems each of dill and thyme, 8 stems of rosemary, 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns and 1 tablespoon of kosher salt.  Cover with water plus 3 inches and bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer and let cook for 3 hours.  Skim the sludge off the top during cooking.  Strain and put in containers and freeze up to 6 months.

Time to Cook

  • Chop the shallot and sautΓ© in a tablespoon of olive oil until it is translucent, around 5 minutes on medium heat.  Add the chopped basil and tarragon and cook for two minutes.  Add the butter and melt.  (you want to do this just before serving the lobster.
  • Take the lobster our of the fridge drizzle the butter on the lobster meat and serve immediately
Lobster gone wild down in South Carolina.

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