Mar 9, 2020

Lobster Fra Diavolo

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr 30 mins
In this lobster fra diavolo recipe pasta is tossed in a tomato-based spicy arrabbiata sauce with whole lobsters.

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In this recipe tender lobster meat is served tossed with a spicy arrabbiata pasta sauce. The tomato-based sauce is laced with sautéed fennel, carrots and plenty of red pepper flakes – enough to make you sweat (for a milder sauce use only 1 teaspoon of the red pepper flakes).

Lobster Fra Diavolo

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Lobster – I use whole live lobsters that I then cut in half lengthwise. Cutting them is an unpleasant affair, but it is over quickly, and the halved lobsters make for an impressive presentation. While I like using whole lobsters, if you can’t find them for this recipe, substitute six to eight lobster tails, one pound of cooked lobster meat or even shrimp instead.
  • Pasta – I serve the spicy seafood sauce over mafalde – a long noodle pasta shape with ruffled edges (also called Mafaldine). Not only is it a fun pasta shape, but it also holds the sauce in the edges. If you can’t find mafalde, choose another long pasta shape like spaghetti, linguine or fettuccine.
  • Shallots – Shallots have a mild, slightly sweet flavor. If needed yellow or red onion can be swapped in. The general rule of thumb is 3 medium shallots equal 1 medium onion.
  • Tomato Paste – Tomato paste is concentrated tomatoes that have been cooked down until it becomes a thick, dense paste. I try to buy tubes of tomato paste rather than small cans. The tubes allow you to reseal and keep the paste for later (they last a long time) resulting in less waste.
  • White wine – White wine is the base for the spicy arrabiata sauce. Use a dry white wine for fra diavolo since they won’t overpower the dish by making it too sweet. While I will use just about any white wine in a pinch I prefer cooking with Sauvignon blanc. Never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink!
Lobster Fra Diavlo-10.jpg

How to Make Lobster Fra Diavolo

  1. Prep the lobsters. Working one lobster at a time, place on cutting board, belly side down with the head facing you. Insert a chef’s knife where the tail meets the head and quickly bisect the head lengthwise, this will quickly and easily kill the lobster. Use a cleaver or chef’s knife to cut the whole lobster lengthwise.
  2. Sear the lobsters. Heat a large 7-quart Dutch oven (or a large cast iron pan) over medium heat, add 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and heat through. Working 1 lobster at a time, sear the lobster halves. Cook until the shells are bright red and the meat is cooked through, flipping once, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Separate the lobster meat. Remove the lobsters and set aside to cool, repeating with the remaining lobsters. Remove the meat from the tail and body of the lobsters and roughly chop, setting aside in a small bowl. Reserve the lobster halves for serving, and use a cleaver to crack the claws for serving.
  4. Sauté the vegetables. Return the large Dutch oven to medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. First, add the butter and allow to melt. Next, add the shallots, fennel and carrot and sauté until the vegetables are soft.
  5. Add the tomatoes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant then stir in the red pepper flakes followed by the white wine. Simmer the wine until the vegetables are almost dry, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and tomatoes.
  6. Simmer the sauce. Cook, simmering until the sauce comes together, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tarragon and cooked lobster meat.
  7. Cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add in the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and set aside.
  8. Assemble and serve. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce, tossing to combine. Divide among warmed serving bowls and arrange the reserved shells with cracked claws on the side of the bowl. Garnish with the reserved fennel fronds.

Cooking with Lobsters

Lobsters are harvested in New England year round though they are primarily considered to be “in season” during the summer months starting in June. During the summer I usually buy live whole lobsters and cook them myself for dishes such as this. During the cooler winter months I frequently opt to have the fishmonger boil or steam them so that I can just pick them up. But if you are buying your lobsters whole, it takes about 4½ pounds of live lobsters to get 1 pound of meat.

If using fresh lobsters, buy them as close to the time you plan on cooking them as possible. They can be purchased a day beforehand and kept in the refrigerator, wrapped in damp paper towels or newspaper to ensure they remain alive until just before cooking.

Easier still, you can find lobster meat already cooked, broken down and removed from the shell at some specialty seafood markets.

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Tips and Tricks for This Recipe

  • While keeping the lobster meat in the tail makes for an aesthetically pleasing entrée, if you are serving a large group I recommend removing all the lobster meat in advance.
Lobster Fra Diavolo-43.jpg

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

In this lobster fra diavolo recipe pasta is tossed in a tomato-based spicy arrabbiata sauce with whole lobsters.

Lobster Fra Diavolo

shell on lobster with mafalde pasta noodles in red tomato sauce on a white platter with a white and blue stripe towel
Print Pin
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 (1½-pound) Maine lobsters
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium shallots, diced
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, diced (reserve fronds for garnish)
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • cups dry white wine
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon diced tarragon
  • 1 pound dried mafalde pasta (if you can’t find, substitute with spaghetti)

Instructions:

  • Working one lobster at a time, place on cutting board, belly side down with the head facing you. Insert a chef’s knife where the tail meets the head and quickly bisect the head lengthwise, this will quickly and easily kill the lobster. Use a cleaver or chef’s knife to cut the whole lobster lengthwise.
  • Heat a large 7-quart Dutch oven over medium heat, add 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and heat through. Working 1 lobster at a time, sear the lobster halves until the shells are bright red and the meat is cooked through, flipping once, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Remove the lobsters and set aside to cool, repeating with the remaining lobsters. Remove the meat from the tail and body of the lobsters and roughly chop, setting aside in a small bowl. Reserve the lobster halves for serving, and use a cleaver to crack the claws for serving.
  • Return the large Dutch oven to medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the butter and allow to melt then add the shallots, fennel and carrot and sauté until the vegetables are soft.
  • Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant then stir in the red pepper flakes followed by the white wine. Simmer the wine until the vegetables are almost dry, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and tomatoes.
  • Cook, simmering until the sauce comes together, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tarragon and cooked lobster meat.
  • Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add in the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and set aside.
  • Add the cooked pasta to the sauce, tossing to combine. Divide among warmed serving bowls and arrange the reserved shells with cracked claws on the side of the bowl. Garnish with the reserved fennel fronds.

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