Lobster Rolls

You can scour the Cape’s arm, ferry to the Vineyard or truck up to Maine, but to find the best lobster roll you don’t have to look much further than your kitchen. That’s because so few places make lobster rolls well. And the few that do charge so much that the fun is spoiled. Not to mention, lobster rolls are quite personal. Everyone has his or her idea of how it should be. Celery or lettuce? Mayo or a drawn butter sauce? Top-load, New England-style or stadium frank buns? Do you smear the bun with butter and then toast it? I hope so. Do you toast the bun on the inside or outside? I like a top-load, New England-style bun, buttered and toasted on the outside, a touch of celery for crunch, no soggy lettuce, enough lemony mayo to just coat the meat and some chopped chives on top. And my mom calls me a picky eater? The nerve.

1 tablespoons sea or kosher salt, plus more as needed
1 (1½-pound) lobster (to make about 1 cup lobster meat)
3 tablespoons finely diced celery
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1½ teaspoons lemon juice
Grated zest of half a lemon
Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 top-load hot dog rolls
Butter, softened, for buttering roll
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives (optional).

1. Fill a large pot with 1 inch of water. Stir in the salt and bring the water to a boil. Add a steamer rack to the bottom. Add the lobsters, cover with a tight-fitting lid and start timing. Return the water to a boil, then lower the heat to a gentle boil and steam the lobsters until they are bright red, about 14 minutes. Remove from the pot. Cool and shuck. You should have about 1 cup lobster meat. Chop the meat into bite-size pieces and place in a bowl with the celery.
2. In another bowl combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice and zest and a pinch of salt and pepper. Fold into the lobster and celery. Season with more salt and pepper as needed.

3. Heat a skillet or grill over medium-high heat. Spread the butter on both sides of the rolls. Toast well. Fill each roll with the lobster salad. If you choose, sprinkle with chives. Makes 2 lobster rolls. –Jill Santopietro for The Boston Globe.

TO BOIL a lobster, fill a large pot about two-thirds full with water and bring to a boil. Add enough salt so that the water tastes like the ocean (if you are near the ocean, boil the lobster in ocean water, or use about ½ cup sea salt per gallon water). Use 3 quarts of water per 1½ to 2 pound lobster. Let the water return to a boil and drop the lobsters in head-first to immediately kill them. Start timing as soon as they’re in the pot. Cover, bring back to a boil, then gently boil according to the below timings based on the lobsters’ weight.

TO STEAM a lobster, fill a large pot with 1 inch of water. Add a steamer rack to the bottom of the pot. (If you do not have a steamer rack, make a rack: take a long piece of foil and lightly bunch it so it looks like a rope. Then coil the foil rope and submerge it in the water.) Bring the water to a boil, stir in 1 tablespoons of salt. Bring the water back to a boil. Add the lobsters, cover with a tight-fitting lid and return the water to a boil. Start timing as soon as the lobsters hit the pot. Once boiling, lower the heat to a gentle boil and steam the lobsters according to the below timings based on the lobsters’ weight.

LOBSTER COOKING TIMES
Weight                                     Steaming (approx.)          Boiling (approx.)

1 pound                                   10 to 12 minutes               8 minutes
1¼ pounds                             12 to 14 minutes               9 minutes
1½ pounds                             14 to 16 minutes               11 minutes

1¾ pounds                             16 to 18 minutes               13 minutes
2 pounds                                 18 to 20 minutes               15 minutes
2½ pounds                             22 to 24 minutes               20 minutes

NOTE: Start counting when the lobsters hit the pot. For boiled lobsters, use 3 quarts of water for every 1½ to 2 pound lobster.