Frozen lobster tails are easy now to come by. Most supermarkets sell them and my local market frequently puts them on sale for 5 bucks each, making them more affordable than a so-so steak.
However, most people overcook their lobster tails by broiling them or otherwise rendering the tails tough and tasteless.
The remedy? BUTTER. Lots of butter. You could probably cook river rocks in butter and they'd taste great, right? Well, the key to cooking lobster tails in butter is to do it very slowly, at the right temperature.
Also, this is a situation where the smaller the lobster tail is, the better. Smaller tails have more flavor and cook through faster before getting tough and stringy. So, don't go looking for lobster tails the size of a handball racquet; the smaller the better.
All you need to make butter-poached lobster tails is a couple of lobster tails, lots of butter and a little water. Figure on about two sticks of butter for two lobster tails, but you could double this recipe easily.
Get out a small saucepan. You want a pan just wide enough to hold the lobster tails. If the pan is too wide, you'll have to use extra butter in order to submerge the lobster in the butter. Got it?
Now, thaw out the lobster tails and bring them to room temperature.
Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut through the underside of the lobster tail shell and extract the lobster tail in one piece from the shell.
Next, put a quarter cup of water into the saucepan and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium and start to whisk in the two sticks of butter, a couple tablespoons at a time. Resist the urge to dump all of the butter in at once.
Once a couple of tablespoons of butter have melted, whisk in a couple more and continue until all of the butter has melted.
Now, here's the important part: Try to keep the butter between 160 and 180 degrees F. I try to shoot for 170 F. At this temperature, the butter will melt, but it won't break down, separating the milk solids, water and milk fat. Technically, you're making what the French call buerre monte
When all the butter is melted, turn the temperature on the stove down to low.
Gently lay the lobster tails into the melted butter. With an instant read thermometer, make sure the temperature doesn't get over 180 F.
If the tails aren't completely submerged in the butter, continually spoon a little butter over the tops.
Poach the lobster tails for 8 to 10 minutes, until the meat turns white and is a bit firm, but not tough or hard.
Remove the lobster tails and serve with crusty bread for soaking up the butter.
Or, you could slice the tails into medallions and use them to top a salad or pasta dish, as I've done in these photos.
Photos by Ted Scheffler