This Is the Best—and Only—Way to Make a Lobster Roll, According to New England Chefs
This is how we roll.
There are a million reasons why we soak in summer for as long as possible, but topping our list is getting to eat fresh lobster rolls at their peak. Whether you prefer a hot lobster roll lightly dressed in melted butter and lemon juice (aka Connecticut style) or a cold lobster salad roll, there’s no denying that it’s the perfect summer bite. Want to create this seaside staple in your own home? We turned to three New England chefs to give us their best tips on how to perfect a lobster roll.
Shopping for Lobster
While buying pre-cooked lobster meat at the grocery store offers convenience, you’ll achieve the best flavor in your own lobster roll by buying hard-shell, live lobsters. Choose lobsters that are two and a half to three pounds each, which will yield three to four rolls, according to Brian Dandro, the executive chef of the Royal Sonesta Boston in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “Once you get beyond that size, you lose the sweetness of the lobsters. Make sure the lobster is proportionate (the claws, for instance) so it cooks more evenly.”
The most humane way to kill a lobster is to cut into it with a sharp knife before dropping it directly in boiling water. On the top of the lobster’s body are two lines that intersect forming a “T”—point your knife directly in the middle of the T then press down and cut forward between their eyes. This kills them instantly versus a slower process as they cook and boil. Immediately drop the lobster in boiling water after killing it, which keeps the meat fresh.
To cook the lobster, “It is important to steam them to perfection for 10 to 15 minutes (depending on the size). This allows the sweet flavor to concentrate,” says Patrick Bassett, the executive chef at Forge & Vine at The Groton Inn in Groton, Massachusetts.
“After boiling, drop [the lobster] whole into an ice bath of water to stop the cooking process and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. If it’s over cooked, it will become rubbery,” says Dandro. Gil Plaster, the executive chef of Portland, Maine’s BlueFin also recommends “poaching the lobster in a butter/water/lemon juice mixture” known as Beurre Monte. “It makes the lobster very light and tender and the flavors really penetrate to the meat," he adds.
Assembling the Lobster Roll
No matter your preference, the lobster should be the star of the show. “Rule of thumb, you always want the lobster to shine—anything you do should enhance the flavor—you do not want to mask the taste,” says Dandro. If you prefer a cold lobster roll, Dandro finds that the ideal ratio of mayonnaise to lobster is “usually one teaspoon per four ounces of lobster—just enough to not overshadow the lobster.”
Succulent sweet lobster deserves a bun just as delicious. Dandro recommends a fresh brioche bun. “Toast it nicely on a griddle and the result is a pillowy roll on the inside and crusty on the outside, creating the perfect texture,” he says.
And there you have it! Keep the delicious flavor of summer going as long as possible with these tips for your best lobster roll ever.