Lobster Fra Diavolo
To keep lobsters alive in your fridge for up to one day, pack in damp newspaper. You can substitute eight frozen tails; sear per recipe method, then use the meat from four in place of the knuckles and claws, and split the others for serving.
- ⅔ cup (or more) olive oil, divided
- 2 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
- 2 medium fennel bulbs, chopped
- ¼ cup finely chopped drained oil-packed Calabrian chiles
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for serving
- 4 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, drained, puréed
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- ⅓ cup finely chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Lemon wedges (for serving)
This first part might not be pleasant, but it’ll be over quickly: Working with 1 lobster at a time, place on a cutting board, belly side down, with head facing you (freezing them 8–10 minutes first will render them fairly immobile). Insert a chef’s knife where the tail meets the head, and swiftly bisect head lengthwise in one fell swoop (leave tail intact). Using the back of a cleaver or a lobster cracker, crack each claw on all sides. Twist off tails and cut in half through shells lengthwise. Remove any tomalley or eggs (reserve if you like). Twist off knuckles and claws, then separate knuckles from claws using cleaver.
Heat ⅓ cup oil in a wide Dutch oven or heavy pot that’s large enough to hold pasta over medium-high. Season lobsters with salt and, working in separate batches and being careful not to overcrowd pot, sear lobster pieces, turning occasionally and adding more oil if pot looks dry, until shells are bright red, about 4 minutes for knuckles, claws, and tails; about 6 minutes for heads. Transfer lobsters to a rimmed baking sheet; let cool slightly. Remove pot from heat and add brandy. Return to heat and cook, scraping up browned bits, until smell of alcohol is almost gone, about 2 minutes. Transfer brandy mixture to a small bowl. Pick lobster meat from knuckles and claws; discard shells. Place in an airtight container with tails; cover and chill until ready to use. Set heads aside. Wipe out pot and reserve.
Working in batches, pulse onions, carrots, and fennel separately in a food processor until finely chopped; transfer vegetables to a large bowl after each is chopped. Heat remaining ⅓ cup oil in reserved pot over medium-high. Cook vegetables, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, 8–10 minutes. Add garlic, chiles, and 1 tsp. red pepper flakes and cook, smashing garlic with a wooden spoon and stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly darkened, about 3 minutes. Add wine and reserved lobster heads; bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by one-third, about 2 minutes. Add tomato purée to pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened, 10–15 minutes. Discard lobster heads.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente. Drain, reserving 3 cups pasta cooking liquid.
Add butter, chilled lobster meat, lobster tails, pasta, reserved brandy mixture, and 2 cups pasta cooking liquid to sauce. Cook, tossing to combine and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta. Because you’re working with a large amount of pasta and sauce, this will take effort—toss using a long sturdy spoon in each hand, and make sure to get to the bottom of pot as you go. Add parsley and lemon juice, then transfer pasta to a platter, arranging lobster tails on top. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.
Do Ahead: Lobsters can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill.
Nutritional ContentCalories (kcal) 930 Fat (g) 28 Saturated Fat (g) 7 Cholesterol (mg)125 Carbohydrates (g) 109 Dietary Fiber (g) 5 Total Sugars (g) 16 Protein (g) 32 Sodium (mg) 1020Reviews Section
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
- 2 cans (28 ounces each) whole peeled tomatoes with juice, preferably San Marzano, pureed
- 2 cups water
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups lobster stock or fish stock
- 3 lobster tails in shells
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook onion, garlic, and red-pepper flakes, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and water. Bring to a simmer. Cook until reduced by half, about 1 1/2 hours.
Season with 1 tablespoon salt and some pepper. Add stock and lobster tails. Cook for 30 minutes. Transfer lobster tails to a plate let cool slightly. Remove meat from shells cut in half lengthwise. Discard shells, and return meat to sauce.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti until al dente. Drain, and transfer to a platter. Stir basil into sauce, ladle over pasta, and toss.
The Spicy Sea: How To Make Lobster Fra Diavolo
Antonia Lofaso is chef/owner of Los Angeles’ Black Market Liquor Bar and Scopa Italian Roots. Her lobster fra diavolo is the perfect way to warm up during these lingering cold months, and pays homage to her native Long Island’s abundant seafood.
“I used to go crabbing in Long Island every year with my family, and we would make crab fra diavolo with all the crabs we caught,” says Lofaso. “This dish is one of my favorites and includes a lot of my family’s flavors, so I thought it was only natural to include this on the menu.” Lofaso served as culinary director for the exclusive Master’s Club at equestrian athletics event Longines Masters of New York this coming spring, and loaned us the recipe to recreate at home.
The mix of seafood with colorful veggies such as artichokes, sunchokes and carrots will brighten up any dinner table, and a hint of chili flakes will give your taste buds a nice kick. Try it over pasta or polenta.
The Spicy Sea: How To Make Lobster Fra Diavolo
- Prep Time: 50 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 hours
- Level of Difficulty: Easy
- Serving Size: 4
- 30 pieces PEI Cockles (if not cockles, clams)
- 1 pound fresh Maine lobster, par cooked
- 3 ounces black cod
- 4 cups seafood broth
- 1 1/2 cups sunchoke puree
- 8 baby artichokes, cleaned and quartered
- 3 tablespoons picked fennel fronds
- 3 tablespoons picked flat parsley leaves
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 2 sprigs tarragon
- 1 cup fry oil
- 1 1/2 cups butter, divided
- 1 tablespoon chili flakes
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 pound lobster shells
- 1/2 pound shrimp shells
- 1/4 cup cooking oil
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1/2 carrot, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1/4 fennel bulb, chopped
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/4 sprig rosemary
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 sprig tarragon
- 1 sprig parsley
- 1 small bay leaf
- 3/4 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- 2 1/2 quarts chicken stock
- 1 quart water
For the broth
Remove top shell off of lobster bodies, pull out any guts and remove gills. Rinse bodies in cold water.
Put all lobster shells and shrimp shells on a large sheet tray. Drizzle some cooking oil over shells and roast at 400 F for 30 minutes.
In a large pot, heat oil. Add onions, carrots, celery, fennel and garlic. Season lightly. Sweat and caramelize veggies while shells are roasting. Add roasted shells to the pot and stir/crush bodies into the vegetables.
Add rosemary, thyme, tarragon, parsley, bay leaf, and chile flake. Bloom aromatics for a minute or two then add tomato paste. Stir tomato paste to cook and bloom for 3-4 minutes. Add bourbon and stir, add white wine. Stir and let reduce for 5-10 minutes until alcohol is cooked off.
Add chicken stock and water, bring to a simmer. Stir occasionally and crush the shells/bodies to extract as much flavor as possible. Let simmer for 1 ½-2 hours. Strain through a chinois, pressing on solids to get all liquid/flavor. Discard the solids, strain liquid once more and reserve.
For the sunchoke puree
Bring water to simmer and add in chopped sunchokes. Allow sunchokes to simmer until soft, about 15 minutes.
In a separate pot, warm cream through, but do not allow to bubble. Strain sunchokes and place in food processor or blender. Gradually add reserved cream until desired consistency is reached.
For the fra diavolo
Heat fry oil in sauce pot to 325 degrees.
Gently drop in quartered artichokes to prevent oil from splashing. Crisp baby artichokes until gold brown (approximately 2 minutes). Pull from fry oil. Salt to taste. Set aside and reserve for later.
In a sautée pan, heat 2 tablespoons of butter, add chopped garlic and simmer. Make sure not to overcook the garlic, as there should be no color. Add tarragon and chili flakes to pan. Allow to bloom, and add in 4 cups of seafood broth and allow to simmer. Add in cockles (or clams), and allow to open.
After cockles or clams have opened, add sugar and butter (reserving 2 tablespoons of butter for the cod) and stir until desired consistency is reached liquid should coat back of spoon when ready. Add in lobster to warm through. Keep warm on low heat.
In a separate sauté pan, heat on 2 tablespoons of cooking oil on high. Season cod with salt and pepper on both sides, then sear cod presentation side down. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter allow to brown. Baste fish with melted butter for 2 minutes, or until cooked through.
Recipe: Lobster fra diavolo
Although this dish has all the makings of an Italian dish, everything I have read points to it being an Italian-American invention, most likely conceived in New York. In Italy, they do make a sauce with lobsters with which they dress pasta and risotto, but it is in the form of brodetto, seafood stew -- lighter than the Italian-American fra diavolo, made with onions instead of garlic, and without oregano. Here I give you a delicious version that is a combination of both.
All-purpose flour, for dredging the lobster
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Two 28-ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand
½ to 1 teaspoon peperoncino flakes
1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for the pasta pot
½ cup fresh basil leaves, packed, shredded
1. To prepare the lobsters: Use a large chef's knife. If you wish, stun the lobsters a bit by putting them in the freezer for 15 minutes. Put the top of your chef's knife on the lobster's head, about 2 inches or so back from the eyes. Push the knife straight down, then through to split between the eyes. Hold the lobster with towel where the claws meet the body, and twist to remove the claws. Twist or break the claws for the knuckles and crack both with back of the knife to make it easier to open when serving. Twist walking legs off the body. Split the lobster body and tail in half lengthwise, clean body cavity, leaving in the tomalley (the green digestive part of the lobster). Cut the tail from the body.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for pasta. After you have simmered the sauce with the lobster for 10 minutes, slip the spaghetti into the boiling water and cook until al dente.
3. Spread the flour on a rimmed baking sheet. Dredge the cut-side pieces of lobster body and tail (but not the claw pieces or walking legs) in the flour, tapping off the excess. Pour the vegetable oil into a large Dutch oven, and set over medium-high heat. Slip the body and tail meat into the pot, cut side down, and cook just to seal the meat, about a minute or so. Remove the meat to a plate. Add the claw pieces, and cook just until they begin to change color, about a minute. Remove the claws to the plate.
4. Pour off the vegetable oil, return the pot to medium heat, and pour in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onions and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes, then add ½ cup of the pasta cooking water, and simmer to soften the onions, another 2 to 3 minutes. Increase the heat to let the water boil away, and clear a space in the pan to make a clear dry spot. Plop in the tomato paste, let sizzle a minute or two, then stir the tomato paste into the onions. Add the crushed tomatoes, and slosh out the cans with 2 cups of the pasta cooking water, adding those to the pot as well. Bring the sauce to a rapid boil, and stir in the peperoncino and salt. Add all of the lobster except for the tail pieces, and let simmer until the sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the tail piece, and simmer until the meat is just cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes more.
5. When the sauce is ready, transfer about half of the sauce (without the lobster) to a large skillet, and bring to a simmer add the cooked and drained pasta. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and sprinkle with the shredded basil. Toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Serve the pasta in shallow bowls, with the extra sauce and the lobster-tail pieces over top.
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- Three 1 ¼ to 1 ½-pound live lobsters (I recommend Maine lobsters)
- Salt for the pasta pot
- 1 pound of spaghetti
- 1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups vegetable oil, or as needed
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled
- Two 35-ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), with their liquid, passed through a vegetable mill or crushed by hand
- 8 whole dried peperoncino or diavollilo hot red peppers, or 1 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably the Sicilian or Greek type dried on the branch, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 cloves garlic, crushed
- ¼ cup olive oil, divided
- 6 cups canned whole tomatoes with juice, chopped
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 (16 ounce) package linguine
- ½ pound small shrimp, peeled and deveined
- ½ pound bay scallops
- ½ pound mussels, cleaned and debearded
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Heat crushed garlic and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until garlic starts to sizzle. Stir in tomatoes, red pepper flakes, oregano, basil, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook linguine at a boil until tender yet firm to the bite, about 11 minutes drain.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Stir in shrimp and scallops. Cook, stirring frequently, until shrimp turn pink, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir shrimp, scallops, mussels, and parsley into tomato mixture. Cook until sauce begins to bubble and mussels open, about 7 minutes. Pour sauce over linguine and serve.
Lobster «Fra Diavolo»
As regular readers will know, it’s become a traditional here at Memorie di Angelina to feature an Italian-American dish every Columbus Day weekend. This year’s entry is Lobster Fra Diavolo, or “Brother Devil’s Lobster”. A distant cousin to Southern Italian seafood and pasta dishes like spaghetti allo scoglio, its pairing of what would be, in Italian food culture, a second course with pasta—a kind of seafood version of spaghetti and meatballs?—not to mention its combination of seafood with tomato sauce heavily seasoned with prodigious amounts of chopped garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes, gives away the New World origins of this dish. It’s another example of the rough-and-ready exuberance of Italian-American cooking.
For the initial searing of the lobster:
- 6 small lobster tails, split down the middle lengthwise (or two whole lobsters—see Notes)
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, slightly crushed and peeled
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- 4-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 large can of crushed tomatoes
- A pinch of oregano, to taste
- A pinch of red pepper flakes, to taste
- More olive oil, if needed
- A small jar of clam juice or, if using a whole lobster, a ladleful of lobster broth (optional)
Put a large pot filled with water on the boil for the pasta. When it comes to rolling boil, add a generous amount of salt and the pasta, and cook very al dente.
While the water is getting ready to boil, prepare the lobster and tomato sauce:
In a sauté pan large enough to hold the lobster and pasta later on, sauté the crushed garlic in the olive oil until it just begins to brown and discard it. Add the split lobster tails and sear them on both sides, seasoning them generously with salt and pepper. As soon as the shells turn a bright red color and the meat should begin to turn an opalescent white, remove the lobster pieces from the pan. You should not cook the lobster through at this point.
Add more olive oil to the pan if needed. Add the chopped garlic and sauté until very lightly browned. Add the crushed tomatoes, a pinch of oregano and a pinch of red pepper flakes, and, if using, the clam juice or lobster broth. Simmer until the sauce is well reduced.
About 5 minutes or so before the pasta is done, add the lobster back into the sauté pan and let it simmer in the sauce until just cooked through. Remove from the pan again and keep it warm.
Once your pasta is done, drain and add it to the sauté pan, along with a good ladleful of the pasta cooking water. Let the pasta simmer in the sauce, mixing it well and making sure every strand is nicely coated with the sauce. (Add more pasta water if things get too dry—you want to the pasta to ‘slither’ around in the sauce.)
Pour the pasta on to a serving bowl and top with any remaining sauce in the pan and the lobster pieces.
While lobsters tails are a great convenience, Lobster Fra Diavolo is traditionally made with a whole lobster. The thing about whole lobsters is, you have to kill them before you cook them. There are various ways to dispatch a lobster, the easiest (if not necessarily the most humane) being a quick dip in boiling water. For this dish, though, you need to take another tack: place the lobsters in a freezer for about 30 minutes, which will put them to sleep, then deliver a decisive cut between their eyes, which will kill them instantly. Cut off the tails, then split them in two lengthwise, then, if the lobsters are large, into two cross-wise as well. Cut off the claws and bang them with a meat pounder or the back of a skillet to crack open the shells. Proceed to use them as indicated for the lobster tails above.
The great advantage of using whole lobster is that you also get the carcass, from which you can get some wonderful lobster broth. Just simmer the carcass in water to cover seasoned with some sliced onion, celery, a sprig of fresh parsley, a bay leaf and a good pinch of salt, for about 30 minutes—or longer if you want a more concentrated broth or fumée. Strain and use about a cupful as indicated for the claim juice. (Extra broth is great for cooking a seafood risotto.)
Lobster Fra Diavolo has any number of variants. Some modern recipes call for adding onion or shallots along with the garlic, for a more ‘refined’ taste. Taking things even bit further, some have you add some cognac and flambé the dish before serving. Some recipes call for adding a spoonful or more of tomato paste to the tomato sauce, which, to my mind, just makes things a bit too ponderous. Not all recipes call for the clam juice or lobster broth, but I find it adds a certain depth of flavor. Some recipes omit the initial searing and have you add the lobster meat directly to the sauce to simmer until done but, again, the initial searing in seasoned oil adds another layer of flavor. To make for easier eating, some recipes have you shell lobster meat and cut it into bite-sized pieces. The pasta can also vary, although long pasta seems to be a sine qua non, angel hair, fettuccine and thin spaghetti all being common choices.
Finally, you can make other types of shellfish using the same method: Shrimp Fra Diavolo, for example, may have become even more popular than the original lobster. Clams and mussels also lend themselves to this treatment omit the initial searing and add them directly to the reduced tomato sauce a few minutes before your pasta is done, just long enough to open them. Calamari can also be made this way you’ll need to simmer it for a fairly long time (30-45 minutes) until tender. And there are even recipes out there for Chicken Fra Diavolo for the piscatorially challenged.
The word “Fra”, by the way, is short for fratello, which means “brother” in Italian. In Medieval times, Fra was a title given to members of monastic orders, like Fra Filippo Lippi, the famous 15th century Italian monk and painter. I can’t help think of him whenever this dish is mentioned, even though the connection is tenuous at best. It is common in Italian cooking to name spicy dishes after the devil, but how the “fra” got tacked onto the name of this dish, I haven’t been able to discover. And, indeed, it seems that the origins of Lobster Fra Diavolo are shrouded in mystery.
Boston Style Lobster Fra Diavolo:
- 3 fresh, hard-shell Maine lobsters, 1 ¼ pound each, blanched with meat from the claws and tails removed to add to sauce
- 1 pound linguine
- 12 littleneck clams, scrubbed
- 16 mussels, de-bearded and scrubbed
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ¾ cup small diced onion
- 2 teaspoons shallots
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 ½ cup lobster stock
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
- Fresh basil leaves, to garnish
- ¼ cup crushed red pepper flakes to taste
- 3 cups canned tomato sauce
Directions Boston Lobster Fra Diavolo:
Bring 1-gallon of salted water in large pot to a boil and add the pasta to the pot. Partially cook for 5 minutes, drain and drizzle with olive oil. Set aside. While cooking the pasta, place a 14-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onions to the pan and cook until caramelized, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and shallots and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the red pepper flakes and sauté about 30 seconds. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Cook the ingredients until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
Add the clams to the pan, cover and cook about three minutes. Add the mussels to the pan, cover and cook about three minutes. Add the lobster to the pan and cook for two minutes. Add the parsley to the pan. Add the partially cooked pasta to the pan. Add 1 ½ cup of the lobster stock and continue to cook. Toss the pasta in the sauce until al dente, about four to five minutes. Season the pasta with the salt and toss again. Garnish with fresh basil and serve.
- Six 1 1/4-pound Maine lobsters
- 1 cup all-purpose flour for dredging
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 ½ cups diced onion
- 1 cup diced scallions
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- 3 cups hot water
- 4 cups crushed canned Italian plum tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 1 pound spaghetti
Lobster Fra Diavolo - Recipes
A luxurious and spicy pasta dish featuring the king of seafood!
Lobster Fra Diavolo Recipe
- 3 pounds lobster, raw (you may use only lobster tails)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 stick butter
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 onion, diced
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tsp thyme
- 3/4 cup parsley, chopped
- 3 basil leaves, slivered (or 1 tsp dried basil)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 Tbs oregano (1 tsp dried oregano)
- 28 ounce can tomatoes
- 1 cup red wine
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 pound linguine
- Split the lobsters length wise down the middle. Remove the head sacks and intestinal veins and discard.
- In a large sauce pan heat the butter in olive oil over medium heat.
- Sauté the onion until golden.
- Add the lobster, meat side down and sauté for 10 minutes.
- Turn the lobsters, add the parsley and garlic, and stir well. Cook for 10 minutes.
- Remove the lobster and set aside in the refrigerator.
- Over the sauce pan, crush the tomatoes with your hands and add to the sauce pan. Add the juice from the can and mix well.
- Add remaining ingredients except seafood, and mix well. Simmer 30 minutes.
- Add the lobster back to the sauce pan and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Turn off heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Cook linguine to al dente. (See How to Cook Pasta.)
- Toss the pasta with part of the sauce.
- Top with remaining sauce and seafood.
- Serve immediately with freshly grated cheese on the side.
Note: You may substitute shrimp for lobster.
Bella Italian Food Recommends
Schwan's Slipper Lobster Meat
No good seafood markets in your area? Try this great alternative. Direct from the waters of the western Pacific ocean. Delicate chunks of creamy white, real lobster meat. With a flavor that's slightly sweeter than other types of lobster. Enjoy it as an entrée or in your favorite seafood recipes.
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