Food for Thought

Houston's perfect summer food: Lobster, yes lobster — that political broiler

Houston's perfect summer food: Lobster, yes lobster — that political broiler

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In my opinion, lobster and champagne are NOT overrated.
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I remember the thrill of bringing live lobsters home to slide them into a boiling pot of seasoned water.
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I used to drool every year when Red Lobster ran those lobster fest commercials. And then go eat bad lobster there.
News_Marene_grilled lobster
Grilled lobster. Add corn for a complete meal. Photo by Marene Gustin
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News_Marene_grilled lobster

"The four most overrated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics"   English-American author and journalist Christopher Hitchens.

I don’t agree with a lot of Hitchens’ socialist views but I will concede to the latter two in the above-mentioned quote. But champagne and lobster? Please.

I don’t remember the first time I ate lobster. Isn’t that funny? But I do remember eating lobster thermidor at the famous French restaurant La Louisiane (sadly, gone now) in San Antonio before attending my senior prom. And yes, I think there was champagne. Someone had a legit ID.

Later, as a working adult, I used to drool every year when Red Lobster ran those lobster fest TV commercials. Like Pavlov’s dogs, I would trot down to the local chain eatery and order a platter of mushy, bad lobster. And swear that I would never eat there again.

Until the following year, when the commercials would lure me back.

At some point in the 1980s, I dated a guy from Boston who knew good lobster from bad and taught me to boil live crustaceans.

I remember the thrill of going to a specialty grocer and buying live lobsters, their claws bound with rubber bands, and bringing them back to his condo to slide them into a boiling pot of seasoned water.

“Hear that? That’s them screaming as they hit the heat.”

Which should have been my first warning that that relationship wasn’t going to pan out.

Of course, that sound they make is actually the steam escaping from the shell, not them hissing, “It’s too freakin’ hot, help me, help me!”

Mom always said I had a champagne taste on a beer budget (still do). But when I started to sing the praises of lobster she asked me to show her. And so I brought some live lobsters over one day and showed her how to boil them and melt butter with lemon juice to drench them in.

 Do you know lobster has less calories, cholesterol and saturated fats than chicken and turkey? OK, that doesn’t count the champagne and butter, but still. It’s healthy and delicious.

 I think she liked it, she even sent Dad to buy some occasionally when I came to visit although I’m not sure she ever made them just for the two of them.

Anyway, as summer comes sizzling in my thoughts turn not to hot dogs and Fourth of July fried foods so much as to lobster.

Do you know lobster has less calories, cholesterol and saturated fats than chicken and turkey? OK, that doesn’t count the champagne and butter, but still. It’s healthy and delicious.

So this past weekend I grabbed a couple of tails from Whole Foods Market (no, not the new one everyone’s raving about but the one on Kirby Drive). They stopped selling live lobsters a while back but they had some nice Canadian tails for $10.99 a piece. And their lovely fishmongers will split them for you, which makes it a sinfully easy dish to prepare.

As it was hotter than boiling water outside, I prepped my trusty grill pan and started to whip up some butter for basting. This is probably the hardest part of making grilled lobster and it’s still easy enough for non-cooks to handle.

Bobby Flay has a recipe for basil butter for grilled lobster but you can pretty much use whatever you have on hand to flavor the butter. Just throw a stick of unsalted butter into the microwave with whatever. I added some white wine, minced garlic and lemon juice in the Pyrex cup. Melt. Done.

As for the tails, brush them with the melted butter (maybe a sprinkle of salt and pepper or some Old Bay Seasoning) and slap them on the grill flesh side down for six to eight minutes, maybe more if they’re really large.

Use the rest of the butter as a dipping sauce.

And that’s it. Fun, fabulous food.

I took a platter down the hall to Dad’s where we ate gulped them down with a little bourbon and some NCIS reruns.

Of course, if you are grilling outdoors, throw some ears of corn on and you’ve got a real meal. Oh, and I like to add a few extra tails so that I can make lobster salad or a lobster roll the next day. Because lobster, just like fried chicken and pizza, is always good cold.