You would think it would be easy to boil a lobster and then sit down and eat it. But it might not turn out the way you had planned, over cooked and tough, under cooked and raw. But if you follow these directions carefully; you should have a great time. Boiling lobster is the easiest way for some one who has never cooked a lobster. Actualy it would be correct to say “poached” lobster.
Like a good general you have to plan the assault; don’t take off the rubber bands. Next you have to figure out how long it is going to take to cook all of the Maine lobsters to have them ready all at once for your party. So keep them in a cool environment while you do the math. You have to know the weight and number of lobsters and the size of your largest pot 3/4’s full of salty water (1/3 cup of salt per gallon). The ratio of lobster weight and boiling water volume has to be figured out to roughly come up with a time frame for completion. You can’t stuff the pot with too many pounds of lobster; the water cools off too much. So here is the mathematical formula (1.5 quarts of water per pound of lobster).
Taking into account the total amount of water in the 3/4 filled pot you end up with the complete formula of (total # of quarts divided by 1.5 quarts equal the total amount of pounds of lobster to cook at one time).
A standard twenty quart pot filled to 15 quarts will hold ten pounds of lobsters. Broken down to size it will hold 8 Chicken lobster, 6 to 7 one and a half pounders, 4 to 5 2.25 lb lobsters. Now that you have your total number of lobsters you can cook at one time; you need to know the cooking time. The rule of thumb is 8 minutes per pound of lobster. That is a two pound lobster takes 16 minutes to cook. Four 2 pound lobsters take 16 minutes. It is the weight of one of the lobsters not the total weight of all the lobsters. This of course applies to lobsters of all the same size. Six 2 pound lobsters take 16 minutes.
Broken down by weights after boiling restarts.
Chixs 1.14 lb 8 Minutes
Quarters (Standards) 1.42 lb 9-10
Halves (Mediums) 1.65 lb 11-12
1.88 lb 13
2.0 lb 16
2.5 lb 20
3.2 lb 24
4.0 lb 32
5.0 lb 40
6.0 lb 48
Plunge the lobster head first into the pot and allow the pot to return to a slow rolling not quite boiling by turning it down to stop the boiling. Head first so they don’t accidentally splash you. Rubber bands on the claws so they don’t grab the edge of the pot. They can really hold onto the edge of the pot. OK It’s time to talk about lobster pain. Lobsters do not have a brain. They do not have a central nervous system. They do not feel pain going into the pot. They are clueless as to what is going on. They are physiologically and emotionally equvalent to a cricket. Rest assured.
Do not put a cover on the pot; it will cause it to boil harder. The reason not to boil rapidly is to prevent the fat in the lobster from melting; doing this keeps them tasty. The melted fat will appear as white stuff in the cavity or leaking out of th e lobster. Rapidly boiling water seems to agitate the meat and it is not as tender. Your poaching the lobsters taught to me by a cook named Julia who I am grateful to learn. Cook for the allotted time. I prefer poached lobster over steaming. With steaming it is hard to calculate the cooking time to cook them perfectly.
If you have a large amount of lobsters use more pots. If you are still overwhelmed by the large amount of time for preparation, you can precook the lobsters earlier and drop them in the boiling water for a minute. Remember the CHEF has to have a good time too and not be too tired to enjoy the party!
I prefer to completely cook the lobster and then reheat them in boiling water for a minute. If you looking to save time I would use this method. Trust me they will taste absolutely the same as if you just cooked them and they won’t be red hot to touch. You can cook them an hour before your guests arrive and then let them cool at room temperature. If it is a very hot day over 80 degrees in the kitchen cool in the refrigerator if there is a long wait time.
I like to run cold water on them individually to stop the cooking and prevent spoilage.
If your looking to clean Maine lobsters for making lobster meat dishes such as Newburg, you can use the par boil. But I still prefer the fully cooked because the coral or roe in the lobster will have turned from dark green to red in the females. It is a good way to see if a lobster is done by pulling slightly on a cooked female lobster and see if you see green or red. Red coral is done. The green will discolor the tail meat and make it look a little unappetizing for your diners though it does not harm the taste. Remember the females have the feathery little swimmerets under the tail. The males have a sharp spike. The coral or roe is in between the tail and the body in the center of the tail.
Serve with melted butter and Cholula® Hot Sauce.
Hey if you live in the Rockies at 5,000 ft or more, need to adjust cooking times up a couple of minutes. Remember water boils @208 F @ 5000ft and 194 F @ 10,000 ft.