We serve this on Boxing Day, and although this may seem like a complicated recipe, once you get the hang of lobster slaughter, the rest is easy. Be sure to put the lobster on a large heated plate so that the liquor can stay hot. I like to put hot cooked linguine on the plate, then top with grilled lobster and lemon sauce. Although you can of course choose crusty bread or hot jasmine rice, the pasta will absorb some of the sauce, and once all the lobsters are eaten, you can make the second course.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 (1 1/2-pound) live Maine lobsters
2 cups cold unsalted butter (16 ounces), cubed, divided
1 cup finely chopped shallots (about 6 shallots)
1 (750-milliliter) bottle unoaked dry white wine (such as Muscadet)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons (1 ounces) high-proof bourbon (such as Old Grand-Dad 100 Proof) (optional)
1/2 pound linguine or fettuccine, cooked according to package directions
1/4 cup minced fresh chives
2 to 4 tablespoons water
Place a damp paper towel on a work surface near sink, and top with a large rimmed baking sheet. Place another damp paper towel inside baking sheet, and top with a large plastic cutting board. Have ready to use: a large, sharp chef’s knife; 1 small bowl; and a second large rimmed baking sheet brushed with melted butter.
Working with 1 lobster at a time, place lobster, belly side up, on cutting board. Using your left hand, curl tail into body, and hold. Arrange claws facing right. Carefully plunge tip of knife through mouth of lobster, killing lobster instantly. (Although it may still move, the lobster is dead.) Continue cutting in a downward motion until edge of knife makes contact with cutting board, cutting head in half. Remove knife, turn lobster over, belly side down, and rotate lobster 180 degrees. Flatten tail on cutting board. Insert knife at point of first cut, and cut downward through carapace and tail, cutting lobster in half. If lobster is female, it will have dark green roe where the body meets the tail. Remove 1 tablespoon roe, and place in a small bowl; discard remaining roe. Set bowl aside. Discard light green tomalley, vein running through tail, and head sac. Cut crosswise between tail and carapace to separate.
Remove claws and knuckles by twisting from body. Grip claw with a kitchen towel, and crack claws between spikes with back of knife, twisting knife left and right to crack shell. Arrange lobster tail halves, cut sides down, and claws on buttered baking sheet. Repeat procedure with remaining lobsters. Chill lobsters in refrigerator until ready to cook, up to 2 hours. (If desired, use poultry shears to cut off legs, and place in a steamer basket over simmering water. Steam 4 minutes, and serve as an appetizer.)
Preheat oven to 450°F. Melt 2 tablespoons cubed butter in a large saucepan over medium. Add shallots, and cook, stirring often, until shallots are translucent, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in wine, and bring to a rapid boil over high. Reduce heat to medium-high, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain a vigorous simmer; cook until wine is reduced to just below top of shallots, 30 to 35 minutes. Reduce heat to low, and cook, whisking in remaining cubed butter, a few cubes at a time, until sauce is creamy and thickened. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice and salt, and cover. Set beurre blanc in a warm spot until ready to use, up to 30 minutes.
Transfer lobsters to preheated oven, and roast 5 minutes. Carefully remove from oven, and use tongs to flip lobster tails cut sides up. Return to oven, and roast until lobster shells are bright red and meat is opaque and plump, 3 to 5 minutes. Working quickly, transfer baking sheet to stovetop. If desired, drizzle lobsters with bourbon, and carefully ignite the vapor with a long match or long multipurpose lighter. Let stand until flames disappear. Line a warmed platter with hot cooked linguine; using tongs, place lobsters on pasta. Tent platter with aluminum foil.
Pour liquid drippings from baking sheet into a large skillet over medium; discard white albumen on baking sheet. Add reserved roe to skillet, and cook, whisking constantly, until roe begins to turn bright red and is the texture of soft scrambled eggs, about 30 seconds. Remove skillet from heat, and whisk in beurre blanc and chives. If sauce is very thick, whisk in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to reach desired consistency. Season with salt to taste. Remove and discard foil from lobsters, and pour beurre blanc over lobsters and pasta. Serve immediately.
Lobster may be butchered up to 2 hours before cooking. Keep chilled in refrigerator.
Frozen raw Maine lobster tails are available from Luke’s Lobster in the freezer section of Whole Foods.