I'm trying to figure out the best combination of cooking methods. There seem to be a bunch of different ways people go about it...
1. Raw halves directly under the broiler.
2. Raw halves baked at low temps of 300-350ºF.
3. Raw halves baked at high temps of 400-475ºF.
Then some steam/boil for 2-7min before undergoing the above cooking methods (almost every recipe it seems).
I'm not squeemish when it comes to dispatching a lobster, so I figured going directly into the oven raw would maximize the flavor (in halves, not whole crawling around...
). I've found that doing so causes the tail muscle to seize up and lift up almost to a 90º angle to the pan even at 325ºF after just a couple minutes. I think steaming or boiling first allows the tail to contract parallel to the body so that when the bug is halved it will be flat.
Next I'm going to try steaming for a couple minutes, shocking the lobster, and then splitting/prepping.
Thomas Keller and McGee both say that cooking lobster with violent heat causes the tail to toughen. Roasting at 325º and pulling the halves when the tailmeat hits 140ºF has yielded the most tender results thus far (but no where near what you get with butter poaching!). I give the claws a 5-10min head start so they finish at the same time.
Haven't found a perfect stuffing yet either. The CIA's stuffing with dry breadcrumbs is terrible, although I like their finely minced onion/celery/red bell pepper base. I want something that can absorb all the lobster juices/butter while not becoming a paste (and of course I like a crispy top layer). I'm trying to keep it simple. I add the chopped leg meat into it for extra flavor. I think I'll try some stale (but not dry) "fresh" breadcrumbs with the "trinity" base, chopped leg meat, butter, chives, S&P.
I like everything from scratch, so the popular Ritz Cracker method doesn't excite me either.
I have a lot of recipes that call for a 2min parboil and then 15min in a 450º oven with a 1.5lb bug. Well that equals rubber in my kitchen - not quite sure how they do that. I'm also thinking of a good steaming, and then a quick broiler pass to brown the stuffing, but that won't give the stuffing the really good flavor it gets by cooking it slow and having it absorb the juices.
Lots of variables here - trying to figure out how they move independently to one another as I change things.
Anyhoo, thats where I'm at. Got one bug left for today.