On certain holidays where many people like to go out to restaurants, we prefer to stay in and cook something a little out of the ordinary. For example, on New Year’s Eve, we had mussels. For Valentine’s Day this year, Dan grilled lobster tails, and we served them with pasta in a very nice setting at our dining room table (where we eat 2.5 meals per year, on average.) Grilled lobster is absolutely delicious and so easy to prepare — we should probably make it more often than we do. But we appreciate having a few special recipes that we save to celebrate important occasions, which is what we think Valentine’s Day is all about: a day to recognize and do a little something extra or different for the ones you love.
The first step for the lobster tails is brining, which helps to keep them juicy and adds a bit of salty flavor. To make the brine, heat about 4 cups of water over medium-high heat, then add 1/3 cup of kosher salt…
…and 1/4 cup of sugar. Continue to heat the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the salt and sugar completely dissolve — about 5-7 minutes.
Pour the dissolved brine mixture into a container big enough to hold a lot of ice and the lobster tails. Then add ice — about 3 cups, or enough to completely cool the water and still have visible ice remaining before you add the lobster. (You should never add raw lobster tails, or any other raw protein for that matter, to any brine that is not already cold.)
While the brine cools, carefully cut the lobster tails in half, lengthwise.
Add the tails to the icy brine and put the container in the fridge for about half an hour. (You don’t necessarily have to put the container in the fridge, but if you don’t refridgerate, make sure that there is plenty of ice in the container while the tails brine.)
While the lobster tails are brining, heat up the butter mixture for basting. Over low heat, melt a half cup (1 stick) of butter (don’t worry, you won’t use all of the basting mixture, and it is dispersed among all the tails), about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 2-3 cloves of minced garlic and some freshly ground black pepper. No need to add salt to the butter mixture because the brined lobster will be plenty salty already, even for a salt-a-holic like me.
Place the tails, meat side up, on the grill preheated to medium-high heat.
Coat the lobster tail meat liberally with the butter mixture. This will create flames. Dan says to start the basting with the lobster tails that are farthest away from you and work towards the ones that are closer. Doing so minimizes the chance that you’ll accidentally be scorched with the flame-ups. Trust that he knows of what he speaks.
Once the lobster tails are basted with the butter mixture, turn the tails on their sides and grill them for approximately 5-6 minutes.
Turn the tails once more so that they are meat-side-up again, and re-baste with the butter mixture. Grill for about 7 more minutes. To avoid over-cooking the tails, move them to other sections of the grill if there are any major flame-ups as you re-baste.
We served the lobster with Dan’s “pasta fresca” — linguine or similar pasta cooked with shallots, tomatoes, basil, white wine and olive oil. Perfection.
We don’t do dessert all that often around here, but we figured Valentine’s Day would be a good occasion to add a little sweet to our meal. We opted for a box of mixed chocolates, cleverly coded with an iced letter on the chocolate that corresponded with the description on the card that came with the box. We sampled several of them, and “CR” — caramel with walnuts — was my favorite. Dan really liked “M” which is mint without nuts. Hope you and yours had a sweet and Happy Valentine’s Day!