LOBSTER FRA DIAVOLO WITH SPAGHETTI

by - 5:54 AM

Just about everybody loves lobster, but in this preparation the flavor and meat of
the lobster go a long way. The preparation requires space and attention in the
kitchen, but once it is on the table, everybody rolls up their sleeves, and digging in
comes naturally. It is a pasta and main course all in one. Make sure you put extra
empty bowls on the table for the shells, and extra napkins for the hands and face.
Keep in mind it is fra diavolo, meaning spicy; if you prefer the sauce on the mild
side, just reduce or omit the peperoncino.
SERVES 6
Three 1¼-to-1½-pound live lobsters (I recommend Maine lobsters)
Salt for the pasta pot
1 pound spaghetti
1½ cups vegetable oil, or as needed
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 cloves garlic, peeled
Two 35-ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), with their liquid,
passed through a food mill or crushed by hand
8 whole dried peperoncino or diavollilo hot red peppers, or 1 teaspoon crushed hot red
pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably the Sicilian or Greek type dried on the branch,
crumbled
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Place the lobsters in the freezer about 30 minutes before beginning the recipe. (This will
make it easier to take them apart.)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat for the pasta.
Remove the lobsters from the freezer, and start by cutting off their claws and legs
with a sturdy pair of kitchen shears. Whack the claws with a meat mallet just hard
enough to crack the shells, and use the shears to cut along one side of the joints attached
to the claws. (Cracking the claws and cutting the joints will make it easier to remove the
meat from the shell after the lobster is cooked.)
Lay each lobster on a cutting board with the tail stretched out, and cut in half
lengthwise by inserting a heavy, sharp knife where the tail meets the head section.
Holding the tail firmly as you cut, bring the knife down to the cutting board in a swift
motion, cutting the body cleanly in half. Turn the knife in the other direction, and cut
the tail in half in the same way. Open up the cut lobster, and remove the antennae and
eyes with the shears, making sure to scrape out the digestive sac located inside the shell
behind the eyes. Pull out the dark vein that runs along the tail, but leave the tomalley—
the pale-green mass in the head close to the tail—intact. (It adds wonderful flavor to the
sauce.)
Heat 1 cup of the vegetable oil in a wide, heavy skillet over medium heat. Dredge the
meat side of the bodies in flour, patting lightly with fingers so it will adhere to the
lobster. When the skillet of oil is hot, add the floured lobster quarters cut side down;
continue adding as many as will fit comfortably in the skillet. Cook until the lobster
meat is lightly browned, about 5 or 6 minutes. Remove from the pan, and repeat with
the remaining lobster pieces, if necessary, adding more vegetable oil to the pan as
needed. When all the lobster bodies have been lightly browned, add the claws to the
pan, and cook, turning them with tongs, until the shells turn bright red on all sides,
about 4 minutes. (Turn the lobster pieces carefully—they are likely to splatter.)
Heat the olive oil in a wide, deep braising pan large enough to hold all the lobster
pieces, over medium heat. Whack the garlic cloves with the side of a knife, and add
them, along with the small lobster legs, to the oil. Cook, shaking the pan, until the garlic
is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Pour in the crushed tomatoes; add the peppers and
dried oregano, and season lightly with salt. Bring the sauce to a boil, and adjust the heat
to a lively simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, stir the spaghetti into the boiling water. Cook, stirring frequently, until
done, about 6 minutes.
Stir in the fresh oregano, and tuck all the lobster pieces into the sauce skillet. Cook at
a lively simmer just until the lobster meat is cooked through and juicy, about 5 minutes.
If the sauce becomes too dense as it simmers, ladle a little of the pasta-cooking water
into the pan. Keep the sauce and lobster warm over very low heat.
Drain the spaghetti, and return it to the empty pot. With a ladle, spoon the liquid
portion of the lobster sauce over the pasta, leaving just enough sauce behind in the pan
to keep the lobster pieces moist. Bring the sauce and pasta to a boil, stirring gently to
coat the pasta with sauce. Check the seasoning, adding salt if necessary.
Divide the dressed spaghetti among six pasta bowls. Top each with half a lobster
body, tail, and one claw. Spoon some of the sauce remaining in the pan over each
serving, and serve immediately.

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