Flambéed Pan-roasted lobster
2 live lobsters (1 to 2 pounds each)
2 tablespoons peanut oil or canola oil
1/4 cup bourbon or 1/4 cup of cognac
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into 6 pieces
2 medium shallots , minced (about 6 tablespoons)
3 tablespoons dry white wine
1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh chive
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 lemon , cut into wedges (optional)
1. TO QUARTER THE LOBSTERS: Using a large, heavy-duty chef's knife or cleaver, which can easily puncture the hard shell without damage to the blade, center the blade lengthwise on the lobster's upper portion (its head) and give it a sturdy whack with a mallet (in the video they split it lengthwise down the entire body). Place the blade crosswise behind the lobster's head and split again (Video: basically cut off the part that contains the tail meat, which extends partly into the body). Break the claws free from the head and, using a spoon, remove and reserve the green tomalley, if desired. Keep the split lobsters shell-side down. (Don't be put off if the lobsters continue to twitch a little after quartering; it's a reflexive movement.)
2. TO COOK THE LOBSTERS: Adjust an oven rack so it is 6 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler. Heat the peanut oil in a large ovensafe skillet over high heat until smoking. Add the lobster pieces shell-side down in a single layer and cook, without disturbing, until the shells are bright red and lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes (video: they turned the claws over, kept the tails meat-side up). Transfer the skillet to the broiler and cook until the tail meat is just opaque, about 2 minutes.
3. Carefully remove the pan from the oven and return it to the stovetop. Off the heat, pour the bourbon over the lobsters. Wait for 10 seconds, then light a long match and wave it over the skillet until the bourbon ignites. Return the pan to medium-high heat and shake it until the flames subside. Transfer the lobster pieces to a warmed serving bowl and tent with foil to keep warm.
4. TO FINISH THE SAUCE: Using tongs, remove any congealed albumen (white substance) from the skillet and add 2 tablespoons of the butter and the shallots. Cook, stirring constantly, until the shallots are softened and lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomalley and white wine and stir until completely combined. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the tarragon and chives. Stirring constantly, add the remaining 4 tablespoons butter, 1 piece at a time, until fully emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the lobster pieces. Serve immediately, accompanied by the lemon wedges, if desired.