Broiled Lobster Tail with Brown Butter Sauce
Broiled lobster tail—the quintessential fancy dinner menu item, isn’t it? Unlike whole boiled or steamed lobster, which is almost impossible to eat delicately, with broiled lobster tail the work has already been done for you. The perfectly cooked meat sits atop the lobster’s bright red shell. All you have to do is cut and eat. Of course this requires a bit more effort on the part of the one preparing the lobster tail. The lobster’s hard shell must be cut open, the meat dislodged from the walls of the shell and pulled out to rest on top before broiling. But in the end, you have a lovely meal that doesn’t require bibs, nutcrackers, or wads of napkins.
For this lobster tail recipe we are using a sauce of browned butter with parsley, lemon zest, shallots, and some toasted hazelnuts. If you don’t want to go to that trouble, you can just use plain melted butter with some salt, pepper, and maybe a little paprika to dust the top of the lobster meat before broiling. But I highly recommend browning the butter first. Just that extra step will intensify the butter flavor which goes so well with lobster. I’ve made broiled lobster both ways and will not go back to plain butter. Browned is so much better. Toasted hazelnuts are also rather buttery in taste add a lovely crunch to each bite. Do you have a special way of preparing lobster tails? Please let us know about it in the comments. Thanks!
If starting with frozen lobster tails, prepare a bowl with 2 quarts of cold water and 1 Tbsp salt. Stir to dissolve the salt. Place the lobster tails in the water. Add a few ice cubes. Let sit for half hour to an hour until defrosted.
This recipe calls for lobster tails that are 6 to 8 ounces each. If you are cooking smaller or larger lobster tails, you'll need to adjust the broiling time down or up. For example, a 3 ounce lobster tail should take 3 to 4 minutes to broil.
The trickiest part of working with lobster tails is opening the shell and loosening the meat enough to pull it through the cut you've made in the shell. Depending on at what point of the lobster's molting cycle the lobster was caught, the shell can be either really thick and strong, or thin and easy to manipulate. Take care if working with an especially hard shell so you don't cut yourself, and use a strong hand. (I recommend watching this video for a good explanation of the technique.)
- 2 lobster tails 6-8 ounces each, fresh or frozen
- 1/4 cup unsalted raw hazelnuts
- 8 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp minced shallots
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- Pinch of salt
If starting with frozen lobster tails, while the lobster tails are defrosting, prepare the hazelnut brown butter sauce.
1 Toast hazelnuts in a small skillet on medium to medium high heat. When fragrant and lightly browned, remove hazelnuts from pan and place in the center a dry, clean dish towel. Rub the hazelnuts together inside of the dish towel to remove as much of the papery dark skins as you can. Coarsely chop them and set aside.
2 In a small stainless steel saucepan, melt the butter on medium heat. (Use stainless so you will easily be able to tell when the butter is browning.) After the butter melts, it will foam up, and recede. The milk solids will fall to the bottom of the pan. Continue to heat and the milk solids will start to brown giving the melted butter a wonderful nutty aroma. Let most of the milk solids brown and then remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, to remove the browned milk solids. Remove 2 Tbsp of the melted browned butter and set aside (they will be brushed on to the lobster tails before broiling. (See more details in How to Brown Butter.)
3 To the remaining brown butter, add the chopped hazelnuts, parsley, shallots, lemon zest and salt. Set aside.
4 Place rack in medium position in oven. Preheat broiler. Place a layer of foil over a broiling pan or roasting pan. Using kitchen shears or strong scissors, cut the top side of the lobster tail shells lengthwise, from open end to the base of the tail. To help make the shell easier to teal with, put the tail upside-down in the palm of your hand and squeeze to break the translucent bottom shell (see this useful video I found on YouTube). Grip the sides of the shell and pull open by about an inch or two. Using your finger, carefully wiggle between the lobster meat and the shell and separate the meat from the shell. Then gently pull the meat up through the crack you've created, keeping the meat attached to the tail, and let the lobster meat sit on top of the shell. Place the tails on the foil-lined broiling pan.
5 Pull back the lobster meat to expose as much of it as possible. Brush the exposed lobster meat with the unadorned browned butter you set aside in step 2. Broil for 7 to 10 minutes until the meat is cooked through (less time for smaller lobster tails), and the shells are bright red. I recommend using a meat thermometer, which should read 145°F when the lobster is done.
6 When the lobster tails are done, remove from oven and place on serving plates. Spoon the browned butter hazelnut sauce over the lobster meat of the lobster tails to serve.