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The confident cook

Recipe: How to make a perfect lobster roll

(Sally Pasley Vargas for the Boston Globe)

If you love lobster rolls but can’t bear to fork out exorbitant money at a restaurant, make them yourself. They’re still expensive, but generally half the price of what you’d be paying elsewhere. Since it’s summer and the living is supposed to be easy, let someone else cook the lobsters and buy the meat already out of the shells (you can save money by cooking the crustaceans yourself, or order cooked lobsters and remove the meat in your own kitchen).

Keep this in mind: Lobster is the star of the show and you shouldn’t mess with perfection. That said, there are more don’ts than dos when making lobster rolls at home. You’ve seen those gussied up versions. Say no! Avocado, bacon, tarragon, parsley and other herbs, and lettuce have no place in the salad. You need nothing but a restrained amount of mayonnaise — here the ratio is one pound of lobster to ¼ cup mayonnaise — a little celery for crunch, lemon juice to balance the sweet meat, and some salt and pepper.

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No self-respecting New England lobster roll arrives on anything but a top-loading hot dog bun that has been buttered and griddled (not grilled) until golden. Split-top buns stand upright, and when you toast them in a heavy skillet, you get a buttery taste with the creamy salad.

One pound of cooked lobster meat fills four rolls. When you buy it, ask for big pieces of tail and claws and cut them into chunks yourself. The claws will often have pieces of cartilage, so be sure to check and remove them. Take your rolls outside with the best accompaniment (besides a cold drink) — crisp, plain potato chips. You’re in for a feast.

Lobster roll

Serves 4

1pound cooked lobster meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
2tablespoons lemon juice, or more to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1stalk celery, finely chopped
¼cup mayonnaise
4top-loading hot dog buns
2tablespoons butter, at room temperature
Potato chips (for serving)

1. In a bowl, toss the lobster meat with the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and celery. Add the mayonnaise and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice, if you like.

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2. Spread the outsides of the rolls with the softened butter.

3. Set a cast-iron skillet or other heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the buns, buttered sides down. Brown for about 30 seconds or until golden. Turn and brown the undersides.

4. Fill each bun with ¼ of the lobster salad. Serve with potato chips. Sally Pasley Vargas


Sally Pasley Vargas can be reached at sally.p.vargas@gmail.com.