Monday, October 08, 2007

What I did on my Summer Vacation

I had a good summer. It was warm and dry in New England which meant plenty of great beach days. I also spent time on Block Island in Rhode Island and Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. My five days on Block Island were spent with my wife at the Old Town Inn, a beautiful place which served up gourmet breakfasts daily. My long weekend on the Vineyard was spent at a house that some friends rented. Here now is one dinner on the vineyard.

Since it was our friends that rented the Vineyard house and invited us for a long weekend, J and I decided we would supply the lobsters, cooking up a true New England summer classic. Sure, we could have gone down to the beach and had a good old fashioned New England Clam Bake, but I found a recipe for Grilled Lobster and Potatoes with Basil Vinaigrette in the June 2007 issue of Gourmet Magazine and thought, damn, that looks good. So I made it.

After a nice day spent at Lake Tashmoo, we stopped into John's Fish Market in Vineyard Haven and picked up four tasty, alive and kicking 2lb lobsters. Next stop was the market to pick up some potatoes, garlic, basil and arugula; the rest of the ingredients were already stocked at the house. I'll let the recipe and pictures speak for themselves here, but I have to say the basil vinaigrette was fantastic; it was so tasty and so easy to make.

As it rains here in Boston today, remember the good times from the summer past and start planning next year's island trip! Enjoy...

Grilled Lobster and Potatoes with Basil Vinaigrette from Gourmet June 2007
4 (1 1/4- to 1 1/2-pound) live lobsters (I used 2 lb.'ers - YUM!)
2 pounds small (1 1/2- to 2-inch) boiling potatoes (preferably yellow-fleshed)
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes, or to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 pound baby arugula (about 10 cups loosely packed)

Plunge lobsters headfirst into a 12-quart pot of boiling salted water. Cook, covered, over high heat 4 minutes (for 1 1/4-lb lobster) to 5 minutes (for 1 1/2-lb lobster) from time they enter water. Transfer with tongs to a large colander to drain and cool. (Lobsters will not be fully cooked.) Return cooking water to a boil.

Add potatoes to boiling water and simmer, uncovered, until just tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain in a colander.

When lobsters are cool enough to handle, twist off claws (including knuckles) and crack with a meat mallet or rolling pin. Halve lobsters lengthwise using a large heavy knife. Reserve green tomalley and any orange roe from bodies for another use if desired. [One Food Guy's note: Make sure your large heavy knife is VERY sharp or else you will have a difficult time splitting the lobsters in half. Also note that this process can be messy.]

Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (moderately high heat for gas).

While grill heats, whisk together vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, red-pepper flakes, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking until well blended, then stir in basil.

Halve potatoes. Oil grill rack, then grill potatoes, cut sides down, covered only if using a gas grill, turning over once, until grill marks appear, about 4 minutes total. Transfer to a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette. Keep potatoes warm, covered. [One Food Guy's note: I boiled the potatoes above but skipped this grilling step. I still tossed them with the vinaigrette and kept them warm and covered until the lobsters came off the grill.]

Oil grill rack, then grill 4 lobster halves, cut sides down, and all of claws, covered only if using a gas grill, until grill marks appear on meat, about 4 minutes. Turn over bodies and claws and grill in same manner 4 minutes more. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with 1/4 cup vinaigrette, then keep warm, covered. Grill remaining lobster halves in same manner and add to same bowl, tossing to coat.

Arrange arugula on a large platter and top with grilled lobster and potatoes. Drizzle with 1/2 cup vinaigrette and serve remaining vinaigrette on the side.

Cooks' notes:
• Lobsters can be cooked in 2 batches in an 8- to 10-quart pot.
• If you aren't able to grill outdoors, lobsters and potatoes can be cooked in a hot oiled well-seasoned large (2-burner) ridged grill pan over moderately high heat.

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