Michael Anthony: How to Break Down Lobster

Chef Michael Anthony demonstrates the easiest way to break down a lobster.

Read the transcript of this video
[MUSIC] Let me show you how to crack the shell meat to make this dish really easy to eat. One of the great things about lobster in the summertime is just getting in there and presenting them whole and You know, opening them at the table, and kind of eating in a very primitive way. But, you know when you're sitting down for a celebratory meal, I think you want to present them in a way that is a little bit easier to enjoy them. Now, the couple of things that I would do is first of all, know that they're still warm as they come out of here, so they. In order to handle them comfortably you need to let them sit there for a minute and it's not a race. Five minute steaming time, letting them sit here, don't worry your not over cooking them. We have a little bit of flexibility. Of course there's so inertial as they, as they're still hot they're on the inside finishing to cook. But we're really in good shape. So As soon as they're cool enough that you feel comfortable handling them, if you want you could wear gloves. My hands are used to this. But I'm gonna take their claws off and them I'm gonna separate the tail from the head. [NOISE] All right, so we're gonna set the heads aside. We'll make a soup or a stock tomorrow. As you separate these lobsters, as you can see there's a fair amount of juice, so you can see I'm working over this tray. And over this bowl to avoid making a real mess. But the first thing we're gonna do now is separate the claw into two pieces. That simply using the leverage of pressing down on the tray, and they separate quite easily right here, where the claw meets the the elbow. And I'm not applying a lot of force. It's really quite easy So just press down and let them go. Remember there's still a little more juice. That juice is hot coming out of the claw, so it's nice to have a towel close by to pat them. Now I am going to use a chefs knife To cut and push the rubber bands off. We see that these rubber bands are clean. That is one nice sign that the lobsters haven't spent too much time in the tank. That's a good sign for a fresh lobster. We're gonna take and just moving back and forth the thumb of this claw. We're gonna kinda just give it a little, Push and pull until we start to see this little paddle, this cartilage that otherwise would stay right in the center of that claw and it's too hard to eat and it would get in the way of enjoying that claw fully. So let's try that with each one of these claws. [BLANK_AUDIO] Take the rubber bands off. Whoop. [BLANK_AUDIO] And then we'll take these thumbs off, wiggle it back and forth. [BLANK_AUDIO] Pull out that little paddle. Making sure it's kind of leaning the claws against our tray. So as not to drip all over. Just back and forth you hear a crack it starts to loosen up and you pull that thumb a little further And then bring it right out. So there's that little piece of cartilage that comes right out, it's attached to th thumb, and it really doesn't do much other than get in the way. All right, now, we wanna make sure that we have a dry Working cutting board here. And I'm gonna take the back of my knife, not the blade, we don't wanna damage the blade, I'm gonna use the back of my knife to make one swift cut right here at the base of the claw. And what I'm gonna attempt to do is But just kinda bury the knife into the shell. I'm not cutting through it, I'm not trying to cut in half, and then I want to turn it about 90 degrees. So, I need another tap and with another 90 degree turn we've loosened the, The entire shell, and that claw comes out in one beautiful piece. Let's try it again. So we're trying to get a little bit of the excess juice out of our way so we don't make a huge mess. Make sure we're working over a clean cutting station. And then right over the base of that claw a good tap and then a 90 degree turn, and we just take that shell right off, and again we have a beautiful, a beautiful claw. I'll finish these four. [SOUND] When I worked for Chef Daniel Ballou, I had to do about 50 of these every day. That was a real race but you're not racing anyone here at home. All you need to do is try to keep it clean so that the clean up doesn't take you more time than the actual cooking process. [SOUND] And that's it you have this beautiful craws that are cooked perfectly. Now you don't have to struggle with them at the table. You don't have to have the lobster crackers. These guys need just a little cleanup and they are really in beautiful shape to present on the plate. [BLANK_AUDIO] I'm going to just trim the tail piece and Clean off a little bit of the protein that coagulates around the claw. It all tastes delicious. This is simply for a little presentation. There is usually a little string that sticks out the side of the claw and tends to be a little bit Tough, we don't really wanna chew on that so we'll trim it. We're not, at this point there's no reason to make a lot of loss. Some people out of habit and preference will take off the tip of the claw. I find that it tastes quite delicious and I'm happy to leave it on the plate and I'd rather not waste it. We went to all of this trouble to harvest an amazing lobster, cook it carefully. I'm not sure why we would throw it in the garbage. So let's keep it all together. We have our claws Set aside here. So now our tails are fully cooked, and we wanna remove them from this tough shell in a way that we can really admire their shape and their color, and the easiest way to do that is to take them and lay them on their side and put some pressure on the side of the lobster. [BLANK_AUDIO] And with your thumbs on each side of the lobster, we're pushing and pulling simultaneously to pull that shell off, and once the first part comes we can grab the tail and the rest of it just comes sliding right out. [NOISE] Pat it dry. Lay it on it's side. [SOUND] Crack the shell without smashing the meat. We're just putting some pressure on the side of that shell and then opening it up and using our thumbs to push from both sides. This tail is Constructed so that it has segments that tend to break apart in pieces. And so once the first couple come free, you really don't have to wrestle with the rest of the tail. We'll just kinda get a good grip on it, and wiggle it so that it comes right out. Just like that and then, same story, let's clean it up just a little bit and it's just a little bit of this albumen which is perfectly delicious. We just wanna show off the awesome red color of this lobster tail. It's one of the most amazing things to eat. think it might be one of my favorite things of all time to eat. And there is a little bit of beautiful meat that comes out of the head like this it is also delicious let us say that we put it in a little salad but for today we want to show this lobster awesome brown curb at the back of the lobster tail. Just clean this guys up just a little bit. And we're ready to present it and eat it. And what's amazing is this lobster [COUGH], is still warm. It's not that hot, but it's above room temperature. Which means that it's just The flavor is as pronounced as it's gonna be. It is an incredibly delicious temperature to eat the lobster. Once it gets cold, I think it's still delicious. But it hides a little bit of it's flavor. I'm gonna go ahead and show you how to remove the meat from these pesky little elbows We can do it a number of ways. We could use, [SOUND]. Again, the back of our knife, we're not using the blade. We've worked so hard to keep sharp and I'm kind of crushing it from all sides, without smashing, actually smashing through the meat. Crushing it from all sides and then same story, just pulling. Pulling the shell apart to expose that amazing claw meat and this will come out in one nice beautiful piece. And amazingly that maybe one of the best bites of The lobster itself, and definitely not to be forgotten. [MUSIC] [BLANK_AUDIO]
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Michael Anthony: How to Break Down Lobster


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