Hot Buttered Lobster

I could not write a chapter in a cook book about food for celebrating a special occasion without including a recipe for hot buttered lobster.  This is the ultimate in decadence food.  Ballymaloe is famous for this dish and people will often check to see if it’s on the menu before coming to dinner!  The method of cooking the lobster here is considered by the RSPCA to be the most humane, and if definitely does give you wonderfully tender and juicy meat.

Serves 4


  • 2 x 900g (2 x 2lbs) live lobster
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • 600ml (1 pint) water
  • 600ml (1 pint) dry white wine
  • a couple of sprigs of parsley and thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A few peppercorns
  • 100g (4ozs) butter
  • 1 lemon
  • pepper
  • Garnish: Wedges of lemon


  1. First cover the lobsters in a large saucepan with tepid salted water (3 tablespoons salt to every 2 litres of water) and bring to a boil over a medium heat (the lobster will die at about 45°C). 
  2. At this stage the lobsters will have started to turn from dark blue to a browny orange so remove them and pour out (discard) the cooking water.
  3.  Put the carrot, onion, celery, water, wine, herbs and peppercorns into the saucepan and bring to the boil.  Add in the lobsters and cover with the lid. 
  4. Cook until the lobsters turn a very bright orange-red with no trace of blue.  (Lobsters which are about 900g (2lbs) in weight will need 30 minutes in the vegetables, wine and water, if they are 1.3kg (3lbs) in weight they will take 40 minutes.
  5.  When they are cooked, take them out of the pot and sit them somewhere to cool.  Strain the cooking liquid (this is called a court bouillon) and use as the most fantastic fish stock – it will freeze).
  6.  Once the lobsters are cool enough to handle, take a large sharp chopping knife and split them in half (from the head to the tail) as evenly as possible.
  7. Extract all the meat from the head (this is very tasty brown meat), claws and tail (delicious white meat).  You will need to either use a weight or the back of the blade on your chopping knife to crack open the shell on the claws.  Make sure you don’t get any of the broken shell or the cartilage from the centre of the claws in with the meat.  Chop the meat into 2cm (¾ inch) chunks approximately.
  8.  Clean the lobster shells (keep the heat and tail intact and together if possible, this is what you will serve the lobster in) and pop into an oven or grill to heat up.
  9. When hot, place the 4 half shells on 4 warm plates.  Melt the butter in a frying pan on a high heat, when it’s hot and foaming add in the lobster meat and toss for about a minute until it’s all hot.  Season with lemon juice and pepper to taste (you probably won’t need any salt). 
  10. Using a slotted spoon, divide the lobster between the 4 half shells on the plates, then spoon the buttery juices into little bowls on each plate or just spoon straight over the lobster meat.

Serve immediately with a wedge of lemon and see your guests melt in ecstacy!