We wanted to bring home a true New England-style lobster roll, complete with tender meat coated in a light dressing and tucked into a buttery toasted bun, but first we had to deal with the lobster.
To make things easier, we sedated the lobster by placing it in the freezer for 30 minutes. Boiling was the easiest way to cook it, and removing it from the water when the tail registered 175 degrees ensured it was perfectly tender.
For the lobster roll, we adhered mostly to tradition, tossing our lobster with just a bit of mayonnaise and adding a hint of crunch with lettuce leaves and a small amount of minced celery. Onion and shallot were overpowering, but minced chives offered bright herb flavor.
Lemon juice and a pinch of cayenne provided a nice counterpoint to the rich lobster and mayo.
New England Lobster Roll
Start to finish: 1 hour
To boil lobster:
4 (1 1/4-pound) live lobsters (yields 1 pound of meat)
1/3 cup salt
Lobster Roll Filling:
1 pound lobster meat, tail meat cut into 1/2-inch pieces and claw meat cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons minced celery
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced fresh chives
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
6 New England-style hot dog buns
6 leaves Boston lettuce
Place lobsters in large bowl and freeze for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, bring 2 gallons water to boil in large pot over high heat. To cook four lobsters at once, you will need a pot with a capacity of at least 3 gallons. If your pot is smaller, boil the lobsters in batches. Start timing the lobsters from the moment they go into the pot.
Add lobsters and salt to pot, arranging with tongs so that all lobsters are submerged. Cover pot, leaving lid slightly ajar, and adjust heat to maintain gentle boil. Cook for 12 minutes, until thickest part of tail registers 175 degrees (insert thermometer into underside of tail to take temperature). If temperature registers lower than 175 degrees, return lobster to pot for 2 minutes, until tail registers 175 degrees, using tongs to transfer lobster in and out of pot.
Transfer lobsters to rimmed baking sheet and set aside until cool enough to remove meat, about 10 minutes. Cut tail meat into 1/2-inch pieces and claw meat into 1-inch pieces. (Lobster meat can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to 24 hours.)
Whisk mayonnaise, celery, lemon juice, chives, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and cayenne together in large bowl. Add lobster and gently toss to combine.
Place 12-inch nonstick skillet over low heat. Butter both sides of hot dog buns and sprinkle lightly with salt. Place buns in skillet, with 1 buttered side down; increase heat to medium-low; and cook until crisp and brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook second side until crisp and brown, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer buns to large platter. Line each bun with lettuce leaf. Spoon lobster salad into buns and serve immediately.