Pipes is back, and for this cook we are going under the sea! When I think of BBQ, my mind goes to things like ribs, maybe steak, maybe even burgers but never seafood. So, when Mikey offered me the assignment of seafood, I jumped at it. I figured that if nothing else, this would be a great learning experience. Mikey must have been feeling a bit generous with this assignment, as he even gave me a choice. He offered lobster tails or swordfish steaks. This was an interesting choice for me. Swordfish steaks I have never had and thus I had absolutely no clue what to expect. Likewise, I have never actually had lobster, but I was at least familiar with them. In the end, I knew lobster would appeal to both my wife and son without forcing them to open their mind too much. So, I went that direction. Of course, it didn't hurt that lobster tails just happened to be on sale at my local butcher shop.
This started pretty easy. The lobster tails were on sale, so they were in the cooler. I didn't have to sweat through any awkward butcher counter moments. I simply picked up 6 tails and happily went on my way. Very quickly, I realized this was going to be a very different cook from start to finish. Meat, in a way, is meat. I know how to rub it. I know how to prep it to a point. These tails, however, are strange. There are the shells and there are these little legs which I didn't know what to do with. It was just confusing. When it came to this cook, there was only one thing I really knew, which was:
"If you will brave the weird and haunted shores at world's end, then you will need a captain who knows those waters."
Unfortunately, Hector Barbossa was not available. So it was time to bug my mentor Mikey.
First, I did some research and came up with a couple methods of cooking these tails, which seemed exceedingly simple. I gave Mikey my best guess at how I should cook them. It was not a surprise when he came up with another method altogether. While a little more complex than what I found, it still seemed simple. Cut the shell in half, cut the meat loose in the shell, rub, butter, and cook for 10-12 minutes at around 375. This seemed so simple, in fact, that I decided to look into the sides to accompany this cook.
For this cook, I decided since I didn't know much about lobster, I would go with something I did know for the sides. I realized that in my time spent at Red Lobster, just about everything comes with a baked potato, cheddar bay biscuits, and a Caesar salad. On top of that, I already knew I would be making a garlic butter to dip the lobster in. All of these items were pretty easy. What wasn't easy though was realizing that the bake time for the biscuits, the prep time for the butter and the cook time for the lobster tails was all about the same. It simply meant that I needed to pull everything together at the same time.
After I got the potatoes baking, I decided to put my daughter in charge of the salad. I mixed the dough for the biscuits and then it was time to focus on the cook itself. I got the kitchen sheers out and began to cut a slit on the back of the tail. Once that was done, I realized that the little legs were attached to this whole bone structure. I was surprised I knew nothing of this but figured that it had to go too. I carefully cut it off with the shears. Finally, I was able to cut in between the meat and the tail with a knife to loosen it. This whole task was more time consuming than I expected but not hard. It was time to add some Lane's Q-Nami and get the cooker ready.
I fired the charcoal and then pondered Mikey's final note on the smoke. He recommended just a kiss of smoke. Seriously, what the hell does that mean? I figured if it is just a kiss, then maybe just a couple chunks of wood. So I did just that. I added a couple chunks of apple wood and the smoke began to pour out of the kettle.
The next half hour is kinda a blur. I put the lobsters on the kettle. I threw the biscuits in the oven and thought about celebrating by pouring a finger or two of Kraken Rum. I realized there was no time to relax with said beastie. So, I started making my own concoction of garlic butter. I took the biscuits out and covered them with their own buttery topping and ran out to the kettle.
There, sitting on the fire, were six beautiful lobster tails. To my surprise, they had turned red, and they looked amazing. As I brought them inside, I took a deep breath realizing the entire meal had come together. Despite my lack of inspiration and going the Red Lobster route with the sides, I had put together a complete meal which centered around the amazing red lobster tails.
I have enjoyed eating everything I have cooked thus far, but this was incredible. It was truly a fantastic feast which everyone enjoyed. The seasoning and smoke flavor added the perfect blend of flavor, while the added butter kept them from drying out on the kettle. This meal was perfect.
To me, the interesting thing about this cook, and really all the cooks I have done thus far, is that they have all helped me to develop different skills while also offering a meal which was far out of reach in my normal life. I am becoming comfortable with getting my kettle to a variety of temps and holding them. I am learning how to prep meat and how to season it. Yet I am also eating some of the most fantastic meals ever!
In a lot of ways, BBQ is the epitome of cooking. When most people think about cooking they are focused on following a recipe, an exact list of how and what, to get precise results. A chef though, doesn't work with recipes. They take their knowledge and apply it to get the result they are looking for. In BBQ there is no recipe. Recipes are more what you would call 'guidelines' than actual rules. The truth is that creating temp and smoke is never an exact science and will vary. Every cut of meat is slightly different. As we BBQ, we must adapt and make up rules as we go. We need to respond to our cook without thinking we can truly set it and forget it.
BBQ is an active craft. While my skill set is still small, I am learning every day and beginning to use my skills to help adapt to my cook properly.
Until next post, remember kids.....CHUNKS not chips!
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Ingredients - Lobster Tails
2 lobster tails
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
Lane's Q-Nami Rub - To Taste
Ingredients - Garlic Butter Sauce
1 cup unsalted butter
black pepper - to taste
salt - to taste
garlic powder - to taste
onion powder - to taste
Directions - Lobster Tails
Using shears, cut the top of the lobster tail lengthwise down the center leaving the tail fin intact.
Cut the meat from the tail leaving it attached at the tail.
Cut a 1/2" slit down the center of the meat.
Season with Lane's Q-Nami rub.
Place 1/2 tbsp. of butter to top of meat.
Set up cooker for indirect medium heat (approx. 375-400 degrees).
Add chunks of Apple Wood to charcoal.
Place lobster tails shell side down on grill.
Cook for 10-12 minutes until shell is red and meat turns opaque.
Remove and let rest for 5 minutes.
Directions - Garlic Butter Sauce
Melt 1 tbsp. of butter in saucepan over medium heat.
Stir in garlic powder and cook about 3 minutes.
Reduce heat to low.
Add in remaining butter and stir to melt.
Mix in salt, pepper, and onion powder and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.