Roast Lobster with Bread Topping
"This terrific lobster preparation reminds me of a dish that was popular on the menus of Italian-American restaurants when I first came to the United States. Lobster oreganata, as the dish was called, was a split lobster topped with bread crumbs, seasoned with dry oregano, and baked. On recent visits to the Sardinian coast, I’ve often had its prized spiny lobsters prepared in quite similar fashion. So, though I am pleased to bring you this recipe for authentic Sardinian aragosta arrosta (roast lobster), I am quite sure that Italian American restaurants and immigrants had the same idea many years ago. I like this dinner to be a hands-on, fully absorbing experience. After my guests have salad or a vegetable appetizer, I give everyone a half-lobster without the distraction of side dishes, furnishing guests with plenty of wet towels and bowls for empty shells. Then we all just concentrate on getting every morsel of meat out of these amazing crustaceans."
- 3 live lobsters, about 1½ pounds each
- 1 cup dry bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups dry white wine
- Lemon wedges for garnishing
- You will need a half-sheet pan (12 by 18 inches) or other large, rimmed baking sheets; heavy aluminum foil; moist napkins and bowls for the lobster shells, on the table. About ½ hour before you plan to cut up the lobsters, put them in the freezer. They will become inactive as their temperature drops (but don’t let them freeze). Arrange a rack in the center of the oven, and heat it to 400 degrees. Split the lobsters in half lengthwise, one at a time. Hold each lobster flat on a cutting board, and place the point of a heavy chef ’s knife through the shell just behind the head, with the blade lined up between the eyes. Bring the blade down firmly, splitting the head in two. Turn the lobster so you can align the knife blade from behind the head along the tail, and cut down through the entire body and tail in one stroke.
- When all the lobsters are split, remove and discard the sac and nerve tissue in the head cavity, and the thin intestinal tract that runs along the back between shell and tail meat. Arrange the six lobster halves on the baking sheet, cut sides up, claws extended to keep the lobsters in place without rolling. Toss together the bread crumbs, chopped parsley, and ¼ teaspoon of the salt in a bowl; drizzle in ¼ cup of olive oil, and toss well, until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Sprinkle the crumbs over the cut surfaces of the lobster halves, covering all the meaty parts; lightly press crumbs into the cavities, too.
- Pour the wine and the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil into the pan around the lobsters (not on the crumbs); sprinkle the remaining salt into the wine and oil, and stir. Tent the pan of lobsters loosely with a sheet of heavy aluminum foil (don’t let it touch the topping), and carefully set the pan in the oven. Roast for 10 minutes, remove the foil, and roast another 20 to 25 minutes, until the lobsters are cooked through and the crumbs are crisp and golden. Serve the lobsters immediately, placing a half on each dinner plate, or all the halves on a big platter to share family-style. Spoon any juices in the pan over the lobsters; place lemon wedges on the plates or platters. Make sure napkins and bowls for the shells are handy, and dig in.