How to make the perfect post-round lobster roll, according to a golf club chef

a lobster roll

The lobster roll is a summer rite of passage. Here's how to make one.

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Ah, the lobster roll. I cannot say these words without picturing the iconic white and blue “LUNCH” sign on Montauk Highway in Amagansett, Long Island. When I was growing up, this was the marker that told me we were minutes from Montauk.

In New England, where I have always lived and worked, the lobster roll has been a favorite since its inception at Perry’s Restaurant in Milford, Conn. in 1929. Warm lobster meat tossed in drawn butter and served on a toasted hotdog roll: how can you go wrong with that? That version of the lobster roll is called ‘Connecticut-style.’ Like chowder, this American favorite has regional variations.

The Maine-style lobster roll features poached lobster as a cold salad tossed with mayonnaise, minced celery and a squeeze of lemon juice. Butter lettuce leaves are placed on the roll before spoonsful of this beautiful salad are piled on top. The Long Island version (also known as the Manhattan version) is almost identical to the Maine version. Just skip the lettuce.

Provided it’s fresh and properly seasoned, either way suits me fine. But here’s how I’d make it.

How to cook a Lobster Roll

The Meat

If you’re making this at home, it’s best to buy fresh, live hard-shell lobsters and do it yourself. A 1.25-pound lobster (what your local fishmonger will call a ‘chick lobster’) is best. You’ll need one per person. You’ll want to simmer your lobster in a large pot of boiling water for 9 minutes, then place it in a large bowl of ice water to chill for 6 minutes to completely cool.

Cracking shells

If you’re new to this — and even if you’re not — you might want to wear garden gloves so that you don’t cut your fingers. Remove the tail from the body and squeeze it from the sides, then pull apart. The meat will pop out of the tail. The claws are a bit more challenging. You will have to break the joints from the claws and use a good pair of kitchen shears to cut the shell away from the meat.

Killing them kindly

I’ve been a chef for most of my career, so I’ve prepared a lot of lobsters. I’ve always tried to be as humane as possible. If I’m cooking 5 to 10 lobsters, I will hold the lobster down and with a sturdy, well-pointed knife and split the skull just between the eyes. This kills them instantly. Then I place the lobsters into the pot to simmer. I’m sure that doesn’t sound pretty, but it makes you appreciate and respect the food you consume even more.

The Right Roll

I prefer a large, New England-style split-top roll with flat sides. Brush the outside with butter and toast it on a griddle. Get it golden brown.

Matt Fitzpatrick
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Lobster rolls call for drawn butter. What is that, exactly? When you gently melt butter, it separates into three layers. The top layer consists of milk solids (proteins), the middle is pure butterfat, and the bottom is water. Drawn butter is melted butter that does not contain water. Gently melt butter over low heat and pour off milk solids and butterfat. Clarified butter would require removing milk solids and cooling overnight to ensure all excess water is removed. Not necessary here.

Mixing it up

My lobster roll is a bit unconventional. I like to use mayonnaise as a base and add fine herbs — or equal part chives, chervil, tarragon, and parsley. Chop herbs up and mix in with a little lemon zest that you’ve grated with a Microplane (or fine zester). Add finely diced celery and you’re all set. (For some added flavor, I’ll add leftover butter to my salad after brushing the roll.)

Shaun’s Montauk Lobster Roll

– 1 ¼-pound lobster (prepared according to the directions above, meat diced to half-inch cubes)

– 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise

– 1 teaspoon of fines herbs

– 1 tablespoon fine diced celery

– 1 pinch lemon zest

– salt and pepper to taste

– 1 Soft Hot Dog Roll

– 2 tablespoons drawn butter for brushing

Connecticut Lobster Roll

– 1 1/4-pound lobster

– 2 tablespoons of warm drawn butter

– Salt and pepper to taste

– 1 Soft Hot Dog Roll

– 2 tablespoons drawn butter for brushing

Maine Lobster Roll

– 1 ¼-pound lobster

– 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise

– 1 teaspoon of chives

– 1 tablespoon fine diced celery

– ¼ lemon wedge for juice

– Salt and cayenne pepper to taste

– 1 Soft Hot Dog Roll

– 2 tablespoons drawn butter for brushing

Shaun Lewis, a classically trained chef and cocktail master, is the GM at Old Westbury Golf and Country Club on Long Island, N.Y. and a frequent contributor to

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