Have Soup Pot--Will Travel

Whenever we go camping, I have to bring my huge cooking pot along. You never know what you're going to run into--rabbit, deer, or even bear! My most memorable lobster meal has to be on our camping trip to Maine some years back. We bought 4 whole lobsters at a roadside stand and my wife, Michelle, and I cooked them and ate them all. Lobsters are just about the easiest things to prepare, so I am surprised that I constantly get questions on how to fix them.

There are two very important points to remember--they must be live (dead lobsters make mushy meat) and don't overcook them (well done lobster makes tough meat). If you can't stand to put the poor live, wriggling darlings in the hot boiling water--let your spouse do it or your kid. My 9 year old daughter, Jessica, thinks its the coolest thing in the world. 100 years ago, women were never squeamish about killing a critter and fixing it up for supper. Think about that.

Start with a large soup pot. Fill it two-thirds full of water (enough to completely submerge the lobster). Add some salt and a couple of bay leaves. Bring to a full boil. Let the bravest person pick up "Sebastian" and throw him in. On the average, your lobster will cook 8-10 minutes--a little less for a small guy and a little more for a large one.

The lobster will turn red while boiling. Test to see if it is done by taking it out with tongs and splitting the tail with a large knife. If the meat is clear, put it back in the pot for a couple of more minutes. If the meat is white, it is done.

Time to take it to the table. With the tail split, the meat will easily separate from the rest of the shell. Remove the claws and crack them with the backside of a knife. There is also meat in the arms of the lobster and in the tiny legs. There is no meat in the body, so if you are queasy, don't slice open that cavity.

Another common way of cooking a lobster is to split it open down the middle (while alive, yes, this is true), gut the carcus and rinse it out. Brush with clarified butter and cook under the broiler--or, better yet, stuff the cavity with a crab filling and then bake. Whatever your preference, take the plunge and cook one! You'll need a white wine with body and character for this dish--try an Italian Frascati or a Pinot Grigio. And as always, a creative cook is a good cook.