Published February 12, 2007.
For a lobster recipe in which the smoky grilled flavors would penetrate the meat, we found that simply splitting the lobsters in half was the way to go. Starting them cut side down and then flipping them after two minutes kept moisture loss to a minimum. To allow the claws to finish cooking at the same time as the tail meat in our grilled lobster recipe, we cracked one side of each claw and cooked them covered with an aluminum pie plate.
Be sure not to overcook the lobster; like other shellfish, lobster meat gets tough when cooked for too long. The lobsters are done when the tomalley mixture is bubbling and the tail meat has turned a creamy opaque white. Have all garlic and parsley minced and the breadcrumbs ready before you start the grill. For the breadcrumbs, use bread that is a few days old, cut it into 1/2-inch cubes, and pulse the cubes in a food processor until they turn into fine crumbs. Don't halve the lobsters until the charcoal has been lit. Use the butter variations listed at the bottom, if desired.
1. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal (6 quarts, about 100 briquettes) and allow to burn until all coals are covered with layer of fine gray ash. Empty coals into grill and build single-level fire by spreading coals evenly over bottom of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and heat until grate is hot, about 5 minutes. Scrape cooking grate clean with grill brush. Grill is ready when coals are medium-hot.
2. Meanwhile, mix butter and garlic together in small bowl. Split lobsters in half lengthwise, according to illustrations below, removing stomach sac and intestinal tract. Scoop out green tomalley and place in medium bowl. Using back of chef's knife, whack one side of each claw, just to make opening (this will help accelerate cooking). Add breadcrumbs, parsley, and 2 tablespoons of melted garlic butter to bowl with tomalley. Use fork to mix together, breaking up tomalley at same time. Season lightly with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Season tail meat with salt and pepper to taste. Brush cut side of lobster halves with some of remaining garlic butter. Take lobsters to grill on large tray. Lightly dip small wad of paper towels in vegetable oil; holding wad with long-handled tongs, wipe cooking grate.
4. Place lobsters on grill flesh side down. Grill, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Transfer lobsters to tray, turning them shell side down. Spoon tomalley mixture evenly into open cavities of all four lobster halves. Place lobsters back onto grill, shell-side down. Baste lobsters with remaining garlic butter and cover claws with disposable aluminum pie plates or roasting pans. Grill until tail meat turns opaque creamy white color and tomalley mixture is bubbly and has begun to brown on top, 4 to 6 minutes.
5. Serve lobsters immediately with lemon wedges. Use lobster picks to get meat from inside claws and knuckles.
With Tarragon-Chive Butter
In step 2, add 2 teaspoons minced fresh chives and 1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon to garlic butter. Replace parsley in breadcrumb mixture with 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives and 2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon leaves.
With Chili Butter
In step 2, add chili powder and cayenne to garlic butter. Serve lobsters with lime wedges rather than lemon wedges.
Preparing Lobsters for Grilling
1. With the blade of a chef's knife facing the head, kill the lobster by plunging the knife into the body at the point where the shell forms a "T". Move the blade down straight through the head.
2. Holding the upper body with one hand and positioning the knife blade so that it faces the tail end, cut through the body toward the tail, making sure to cut all the way through the shell. You should have two halves now.
3. Use a spoon to remove and discard the stomach sac.
4. Remove and discard the intestinal tract.
5. Scoop out the green tomalley and transfer to a medium bowl.
6. To accelerate the cooking of the claws, which cook more slowly than the rest of the lobster, use the back of a chef's knife to whack one side of each claw to make a small opening.