Lobster is one of my favorite foods and I love the shellfish in all forms – as meat pulled directly from the claws and tails and dipped in melted butter, in lobster rolls or in pasta. This recipe is for a traditional New England lobster boil also known as a lobster bake, using whole lobsters, kielbasa, red potatoes, sweet corn, and clams seasoned with salt and herbs.
The ingredients are added at separate times to avoid overcooking. After boiling drain and pour the contents of the boil onto the table so that everyone can just go at it!
When breaking down lobsters I learned from the best – my Nana. I’ve never seen someone enjoy eating a whole lobster (even the gross parts) more. When my grandparents were on their first date at a fraternity lobster boil at Tufts University – Papa tells the story about how he couldn’t find where Nana went and he found her sitting at a picnic table making sure all the meat was completely cleaned out of every single lobster around. Waste not, want not! While some might think this is an exaggeration – I’ve seen her in action so I know this is definitely a true story!
Lobsters don’t typically get fed when they arrive at the store – so you want to get the lobsters as fresh as possible for the best quality meat. I tend to enjoy lobsters that are about 1½ pounds in size. Most people say that until they get to about 5 pounds they don’t notice a difference in the taste but I find that the smaller ones are sweeter and more tender as well as easier to crack!
Tip: Place empty bowls on the table for shells when serving. You might also want some lobster bibs as things tend to get messy!
Fill a very large stockpot (may need to use multiple pots depending on sizing) with water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat.
Next, add the salt, stirring until dissolved followed by the thyme and garlic. It should taste like sea water.
Add the potatoes and cook for about 6 minutes.
Next, add the kielbasa then add the live lobsters, one at at time, claw first. Set the timer for 12 minutes.
At the 7 minute mark add the clams to the pot.
When there are 4 minutes to go on the timer, add the corn.
Drain the water from the pot and spread the contents from the seafood boil on a large covered table or add the contents into a large platter or serving bowl.
Serve with grilled bread, lemon wedges and plenty of melted butter for dipping.
Even if you are cooking multiple lobsters at once the cooking time is still the same as if you were cooking one lobster. Make sure you use a large stock pot so there is plenty of room. Cook the lobsters for 12 to 18 minutes in boiling water depending on the size.
When staring into that large salt water filled tank at the seafood market look for lobsters that are moving around – you don’t want the sluggish looking one. That could mean that they have been sitting there for awhile and their meat will have started to break down inside the shells.
Start with the claws – twist them off and use a lobster cracker to crack the claws and knuckles. Remove the lobster meat with a small fork or with your fingers.
Next, separate the tail from body. Squeeze the tail until you hear the underside “crack”, then spread the shell and the meat falls out. Pull the top off of the tail meat. Remove the vein under it and discard he vein. Cut the meat into small pieces and dip in butter. Remove the small legs and suck the meat and juices out.
If cooking the lobsters live then rubber bands are typically added in the grocery store to protect you from getting inadvertently pinched. I typically leave them on for boiling then cut the rubber bands off when they are done cooking.
If you enjoy this classic New England lobster boil recipe, I recommend giving these a try:
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