Pete announced yesterday that he wanted to try lobster. Recall, this is the kid who won't eat a hot dog, hamburger, chicken, egg, and so on. In fact, for lunch I had made him a grilled cheese sandwich and he rejected it after two bites. So, as skeptical as I was, I figured we should enthusiastically encourage him to try any food he wants. As I've mentioned before, I will never, ever be the one who kills a lobster in the kitchen. I suppose if someone gave me a million dollars (and a couple of stiff drinks), I could possibly be persuaded to drop one into boiling water—but plunging a knife into the spinal column? No way. Yesterday I didn't even want to drive home with the live critters, so I had the lovely Whole Foods guys boil 'em for me. (I also had a feeling—which Andy pooh-poohed—that Pete might be turned off if he saw us murder the poor thing.) So I brought home two nice, cooked, bright-red, dead lobsters and let the kids explore them. They especially wanted to see the eyes (ugh) and they complained about the "yucky smell." Julie kept mispronouncing "lobster" as "monster." Then Andy started cracking it open—at which point Julie asked, "Why are you breaking him?"—and showing Pete the meat (Steph had already paled and left the room). When he was all done, Julie asked, "When is he going to be alive again?" We gave Pete a few nice, smooth pieces of claw meat and a little bowl of melted butter. He speared one piece and dunked it in the butter and very bravely, I thought, put it in his mouth. I was really surprised! He said he didn't like it. I wasn't surprised at all. Then he said he wanted to try it again, but without the butter. I was surprised again! He did, and he said he liked it! I was stunned. He ended up eating maybe six bites or so. Which was much more than the corn on the cob—he couldn't seem to figure out how to just chomp into it, although I reminded him that he'd loved eating it last summer.
So, then, what do you do with the meat of two whole lobsters that are missing only six bites? You make a batch of authentic Maine lobster rolls, that's what. Here's Jasper White's formula, and it's perfect:
1 medium cucumber (5–6 oz.), peeled, seeded, and finely diced
1 pound fully cooked lobster meat, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 small scallions (white and most of the green parts), thinly sliced
4–6 New England-style hot dog buns (you know, the kind that open on top)
Place the cucumber in a colander for at least 5 minutes to drain the excess liquid.
In a bowl, combine the lobster, cucumber, and mayonnaise. If the salad is to be served within the hour, add the scallions. If not, add them 30 minutes before serving. Season with kosher or sea salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Lightly butter both sides of each bun. Place them in the pan and cook for about 2 minutes until golden brown. Turn the buns over and toast the other side.
When the buns are ready, stuff them with the chilled lobster salad. Serve with pickles and potato chips.
Update: I need to mention here that some people say that this recipe is inauthentic because it includes cucumber instead of celery. But I maintain that Jasper White knows his stuff—and that it came out delicious. So give it a try and see what you think!