Cooking Lobster At Home in Houston

Many summers spent in New England have made me a huge fan of clam and lobsterbakes. They're a fun and interactive form of summer dining, not to mention a fabulous way of getting rid of all that extra butter lying around the house.

Living in Texas I have missed these seafood fetes and have longed for some enterprising soul to organize one in Houston and invite me as the guest of honor. [Tumbleweed]

Well, that didn't happen. So, I decided to host one myself, or rather more specifically, propose the idea to some of my more adventurous buddies and then passive-aggressively lay the foundation for them to host it at their house. But I would still be in charge of the lobster.

Although I have devoted a significant amount of time to eating lobster in Houston restaurants, I had not done much research into procuring "poor man's chicken" for home preparation. I knew a real lobsterbake was out of the questions since there was no (safe) place for us to build a large outdoor fire. Boiling or steaming was more practical this time around, though in the future I really need to figure out a good bonfire venue.

Little birds told me and my husband that cheap lobsters could be found at Hong Kong Market, but feeling lazy and in a time crunch, we went to the supermarket and much to our delight, did not totally pay through the nose.

Friends contributed cash, corn on the cob, potato salad, booze, vegetables, and the use of their kitchen. We brought a large pot, a family of eight crustaceans, cocktail recipes, and copycat cheddar bay biscuits. No one brought picks and crackers, so at mealtime we improvised by passing around a hammer. (It worked well, but there were some casualties in impatient diners who pried open the shells with their bare hands.)

There was much debate about the "most humane" way to help the lobsters shuffle off their mortal coils before going into the boiling water. My husband, who had done more research than the rest of us combined, stepped forward to do the deed using this method and the rest of us watched nervously like willing executioners.

After a thorough steaming (which, for eight lobsters takes at least half an hour), we piled Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (my nicknames) onto a platter and headed out to the picnic tables. Much delicious ravaging ensued. We drained at least three over-sized ramekins of melted butter and harvested every last morsel of sweet meat from the shells.

I can't wait to do it again.

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Joanna O'Leary