Notes towards roasting a lobster

To take a break from roast poultry, I wrote about a recipe for roast lobster from MS LJS 165 for The Appendix Blog. You can click here to read the full post.

Since I haven’t yet tried the recipe and roasted a lobster in my own kitchen, this post does not follow our normal format. But I didn’t want you, dear reader, to miss out on a potentially delicious archival preparation for this mighty crustacean.  I’ve copied  my transcription of the recipe and a few notes below in case any of you are brave enough to give it a try. Let us know how it goes!

We’re working on some tasty holiday recipes to share with this season. Until then, consider roasting a lobster. Or give this brilliant Financial Times article about cooking traditional Christmas dishes with food historian Ivan Day a read.

roast lobster

To Roast a Lobster
Take Lobsters alive tye them to a spitt with tap[e]
when they begin to be hott baste them with white wine
Vinegar, & salt mixt, when turn red baste them with
butter very well & still as they dry baste them as l[on]g
as they roste, you may know when enough by the
gravy. when leaves dropping they are enough –

sawce see below

Sawce for Lobsters
1/2 pint white wine or to your quantity put in some swe[et]
hearbes 2 anchovis a litle horseredish a litle lemonpeal
& onion boyle it well then take out the time & oinion & put
some grated nuttmeg the gravy of the Lobsters and then
boyle it again & stirr in a good pees of butter, if
they are large they will be 2 howres aroasting

Tied to a stake, the lobsters are roasted over a fire and basted with butter for approximately two hours. An accompanying white wine and butter sauce, seasoned with anchovies, horseradish, lemon, onion, and nutmeg, complements the rich flavor of the lobster itself.

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4 thoughts on “Notes towards roasting a lobster

  1. In the instructions, does he/she first baste with a mixture of white wine, vinegar & salt (or does it mean white wine vinegar & salt) before basting with butter? If so, what do you think that step would add to the flavor? I would never be able to tie and roast a live lobster over a fire.

    Do you think lobster would be a bit dry if cooked over a fire for two hours? I’ve never roasted lobster but shellfish in general dry out with prolonged cooking. I thought turning red meant the lobster was about done. Again, I don’t know anything about cooking them.

    Thanks for sharing these great, old recipes and your interpretations with us. They’re so interesting and I’m glad I stumbled across your site.

    • I think your reading is correct: The first basting is the white wine, vinegar, and salt mix and the second is butter. I’m not sure how the lobster on the stake would absorb this. And I agree, it sounds like the lobster could get quite dry. Perhaps it was on the edge of the fire and cooked slowly? The “clam-bake” method of putting the lobster in the sand near a fire sounds like it would be much quicker.

      Thanks for reading and let us know if you try out any of the recipes!

  2. Reblogged this on DailyHistory.org and commented:
    Cooking in the Archives has a new recipe for Roasted Lobster. At this point Archives has not tried this recipe, but it is interesting. There are not too many recipes that ask you to “tye them [lobsters] to a spitt with a tap[e].” Translation – the poor live lobster is going to get tied to the spit over a fire and have hot butter poured on him/her for two hours. Oh dear. It’s a tough day to be a lobster.

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