Maine Lobster Barbecue

By: Executive Chef Ben Pollinger Oceana Restaurant, New York City

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Serves 4 as an entrée. Recipe appears in School of Fish.



1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon Colman’s mustard powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄2 dried New Mexico chile, with seeds
1⁄2 dried chipotle meco chile, with seeds
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 red onion, cut into 1∕8-inch dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
One 28-ounce can whole peeled plum tomatoes (preferably organic), puréed with their juice 7 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon malt vinegar
2 cups Low-Stress Chicken Stock or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
1 3⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt


Four 1 1⁄4-pound live Maine lobsters Fine sea salt
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil


For the sauce, combine the cinnamon, ginger, mustard, paprika, pepper, and cumin in a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons water and stir to a paste; set aside.

In a dry skillet, toast the New Mexico and chipotle chiles over medium-high heat until fragrant, swirling the pan constantly so that they do not burn, about 3 minutes. Let cool, then finely grind in a spice grinder; set aside.

Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the canola oil and heat until fluid enough to coat the bottom of the pan when swirled. Add the onion and cook without coloring, stirring often, until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook without coloring, stirring often, about 1 minute. Add the spice paste and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 1⁄2 minutes. Add the pureed tomatoes, brown sugar, tamarind, vinegar, and the ground chiles. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer over medium heat until the sauce thickens, about 45 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and return to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat a gas grill to medium heat for the lobster halves; heat a smaller zone of the grill to medium-high for the claw sections.

Pull off the lobster claws and knuckles in one piece, split the lobsters in half lengthwise, crack the claws, and remove the vein and the grain sac from the head.

Place the lobster halves and claws on a baking sheet. Season the tail meat lightly with salt, and drizzle each tail half with 1⁄2 teaspoon olive oil. Scrub the grill grates with a grill brush.

Lightly oil the grill grates. Place the lobster halves on the grill over medium heat; place the claws over medium-high heat. Grill for 8 minutes. Flip the claws. Brush each lobster tail half with 2 teaspoons of the barbecue sauce. Continue grilling 4 minutes more. Brush each tail half with 1 teaspoon of the barbecue sauce. Grill 5 minutes more, until a skewer inserted into the lobster meat comes out warm to the touch.

Remove lobster halves and claws to a serving platter. Serve the barbecue sauce on the side. Cover and refrigerate leftover sauce for up to 1 week.