It can be well-argued that “surf and turf” represents, at least in the popular mind, the very height of luxury. Steak and shellfish is the basic meaning behind the phrase, and the combination of the choicest beef cuts and the finest shellfish is absolutely one of the most celebratory meals out there.
Of course, there are gradations of luxury out there: cheap sirloin with farmed shrimp is not as luxurious as other combinations. So here we’ll be pointing you to the tip-top pairing of filet and lobster tail. We’ll also provide you with the key temperatures you need to get it just right.
The Surf: better broiled lobster
There are many ways to cook a lobster, but for a classic presentation, you can’t beat broiled. The best way to broil a lobster is a two-step process, much like the reverse sear on a steak. Tossing a whole lobster tail under the broiler will yield a finished dish that may be properly cooked in the center, but will most likely be chewy/rubbery on top.
According to the experts at Lobster Anywhere, baking your lobster before finishing it under the broiler is ideal. Use a ChefAlarm® to track the temperature during the baking, and pull the lobster from the oven at about 130–135°F (53–57°C). Then heat up the broiler while the lobsters wait on the counter. Place them under the broiler and allow them to finish cooking. Check the temperature every minute or two with your Thermapen® to make sure you don’t overcook the meat. Depending on the size of your lobster tail, you will want to factor in a few degrees for carryover cooking. Jumbo tails will have more carryover, smaller tails less.
How to prepare lobster for broiling
The presentation people see most for broiled lobster tails is piggyback. To piggyback a lobster, follow these steps after thawing your tails completely:
- Use kitchen shears to cut down the back (top) of the lobster shell. Leave the bottom uncut as well as the tail. Cut the shell until you get to the last section before the tail-fin.
- Pull the shell open on top, then run your fingers between the shell and the meat, even along the bottom side. Don’t loosen the fin meat.
- Rinse the vein out of the top of the lobster meat.
- Lift the meat up out of the shell, pinch the shell back together and rest the meat on top of it.
Baste the meat with butter, lemon, and herbs, then bake and broil.
The Turf: perfect steak
We’ve talked a lot about steak on this blog. And there’s a lot of material you can go back through and find, but no matter the cut, it is imperative that you get the temperatures right. A medium-rare steak has a finished temperature of 130–135°F (53–57°C), so your pull temps will be below the target.
Rather than rehash the whole thing here, I recommend looking at our Steak Temps post as well as our more general Steak Guide. The thermal principles presented in those articles apply across the whole range of steaks. The reverse sear is my personal favorite, both for its efficiency and the tasty results I get from it. If you only have one oven, it might be a fun time to fire up the grill to cook the steaks while the lobster tails bake.
Basic reverse sear for steak
Cook your filet in a moderate oven (or on a grill) until an attached ChefAlarm says it reaches about 115°F (46°C), then sear it in a preheated cast-iron pan for a couple minutes per side until an instant-read thermometer like a Thermapen® reads 125–130°C (52–54°C). Remove the steak from the pan and let it rest a few minutes before serving.
Broiled lobster tail recipe for surf and turf
Based on Easiest Broiled Lobster Tails, by The Stay At Home Chef
- 2 large lobster tails, thawed under cold running water
- 1/2 C melted unsalted butter
- 1 tsp fresh minced garlic
- 1 tsp minced fresh parsley
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- Lemon wedges for serving
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Follow the instructions above to piggyback your lobster.
- Combine the melted butter, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, and mustard by whisking together in a bowl.
- Place your piggybacked lobsters on a baking sheet and brush them with the butter mixture. Reserve what remains for re-brushing after the baking step.
- Insert the probe of your ChefAlarm into the thickest part of the lobster meat. Set the high-temp alarm for 130°F (54°C). Bake the lobsters.
- When the alarm sounds, remove the lobster from the oven and prepare the broiler.
- Brush on more of the butter mixture.
- Place the tails under the broiler and cook for 1–2 minutes before checking the temperature with your Thermapen®. Larger lobster tails will carryover more, so pull them at 135°F (57°C). Smaller ones can be pulled closer to 140°F (60°C).
- When the lobsters reach their pull temp, remove them from the oven.
- Let the lobster cool slightly to rest and serve with a perfectly seared filet mignon.
An indulgent meal like surf and turf is a great way to get value for your money. Yes, it’s still expensive, but nowhere near as expensive as going to a quality steakhouse, and, in point of fact, once you learn how to make it right, it will probably be better at home. Ring in the new year with a sumptuous feast of Surf and Turf with perfection provided by ThermoWorks.
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