Lobster with Basil-Lemon Butter
Chef's Notes: Steaming and preparing a lobster is really very simple if you know the right technique. This fresh, simple compound butter of fresh herbs, lemon, and shallot is a great way to enhance the sweet flavor of lobster.
Put a large pot 1/3 full of water -- enough to steam, but not fully submerge the lobster -- to boil. Meanwhile, make the compound butter by placing butter, herbs, shallot, lemon, salt, pepper, and zest in bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, adding water 1 spoonful at a time if necessary to loosen and blend properly. Transfer seasoned butter to small container, cover and hold at room temperature. (This can be made in advance, refrigerated, and brought back to room temperature for serving.)
When water has boiled, add sea salt, approximately one handful for each quart of water. Add whole lobster and steam for 5 minutes.
Remove lobster from pot using a large slotted spoon or tongs. When cool enough to handle, break down the lobster in this order, placing each piece of meat gently on a plate: First remove the claws. Then, separate the tail from the head. Break the thick leg attached to the claw into two pieces at the joint, using the kitchen counter as leverage. Break claw into two pieces, loosening at the joint. Split claw open with back of a chef's knife, and twisting at 90 degree angles.
Lay each tail on its side and press down to crack. Do not smash. Use thumbs to peel shell away, and pull the tail out. Trim away any ragged, small pieces of meat (and reserve for another use). Break down the elbows by gently breaking shell with the back of a chef's knife in several places and peeling away the shell. Gently scrape the albumen from the meat.
To finish, use the back of a spoon to smear some compound butter on the plate's rim. Slice lobster tail in half lengthwise, and arrange with other lobster pieces on the plate. Garnish meat with an additional dollop of butter, sea salt, a drizzle of olive oil, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
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