May it Please the Palate: "This is How I Roll"

Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard and Walker, P.C., a litigation firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment litigation.

He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for "Current" magazine.

I'm dreaming of making the perfect lobster roll for a summer lunch.

Years ago, my wife's late aunt lived on Martha's Vineyard and every summer we'd feast on fresh boiled lobster. I also remember going to Edgartown for lobster rolls at the Wharf Pub Restaurant in Edgartown, where I would regale everyone with my Teddy Kennedy impression.

I can't even remember the last time I've had real Maine lobster, not counting the $4 frozen mystery tails at Meijer's. I can tell you the last time that my family sang the Dead Lobster song in four part harmony, on a trip back from Massachussetts a long time ago. If you don't know that song, it goes like this: one person repeats the phrase "The lobster is dead," over and over. Another repeats the word "lobster," and a third repeats the word "dead." Over this tight rhythm section, the lead singer croons a heartfelt "DEAAAAAAD - is the lobster!" in sort of a free form riff.

Maybe you had to be there, in that non-air-conditioned Dodge Omni on a broiling hot summer's day, to have fully appreciated our musical genius. On to the recipes.

Concerning lobster rolls, there is one constant. They must be served on a buttered, grilled hot dog bun. Preferably a good one, like a brioche roll from a hoity-toity bakery, but Aunt Millie will do in a pinch.

After that, there are two schools of thought that diverge like Robert Frost's two roads in the New England woods. One is pretty much the naked lobster on that grilled hot dog bun, perhaps in a little melted butter or just a dab of mayo. The other school of thought, more innovative to some but heresy to others, is to gussy up that puppy with herbs, spices, lemon, celery, and onion. One recipe, in of all places "," called the one with lots of extras as having "Devil's spittle."

If it were me, I'd simply toss that fresh lobster with a lemon-dill-mayonnaise and some finely diced celery. But then I saw this version in the July "Food and Wine" magazine that put potato chips right on the sandwich. And I thought "Whoa - potato chips."

So I will take the road less traveled. I will choose the lobster roll recipe that puts potato chips right on the sandwich. And I sing to you, "Dead is the lobster with Devil's spittle."

Deluxe Lobster and Potato Chip Rolls


* 1 cup mayonnaise* (Hellman's or homemade, see note)

* 1 celery rib, finely diced

* 2 garlic cloves, finely grated

* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

* 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

* 1 1/2 teaspoons Tabasco** (see note)

* 2 tablespoons snipped chives, plus more for garnish

* Kosher salt

* Three 1 1/4-pound live lobsters or 1 1/4 pounds cooked lobster meat

* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

* 6 brioche hot dog buns

* One 4-ounce bag potato chips


1. In a bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, celery, garlic, lemon juice, Worcestershire, Tabasco and the 2 tablespoons of chives; season with salt. Refrigerate until chilled.

2. Bring a very large pot of water to a boil and fill a large bowl with ice water. Add the lobsters to the boiling water, head first. Cover and cook until they're bright red, about 8 minutes. Transfer the lobsters to the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain the lobsters.

3. Twist off the lobster claws, knuckles and tails. Crack the claws and knuckles and remove the meat. Using kitchen scissors, cut along the underside of the tail shells and remove the meat. Discard the dark intestinal vein running lengthwise down each tail. Chop the lobster meat into 1/2-inch pieces and fold them into the dressing. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

4. Meanwhile, melt the butter on a large griddle or in a large skillet. Add the closed buns and toast the outsides over high heat, turning frequently, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer the buns to a platter, split the tops and fill with the lobster salad. Tuck the potato chips into the rolls, garnish with chives and serve.

* NOTE: it's easy to make homemade mayonnaise.

2 large eggs, 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon sea salt, pinch cayenne, 2 cups canola or other neutral oil. Add the eggs, mustard, lemon, salt, and cayenne to a food processor. Process for 30 seconds. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil slowly at first, then add in a thin, steady stream until all the oil is added and the mixture is smooth. Stop the motor and taste. Keeps for up to a week.

** NOTE: personally I think Tabasco is the Devil's spittle, so I would substitute Frank's.

And so you have your perfect summer's lunch. Add a crisp, dry white wine or rosé, and maybe a snappy cole slaw, and it's even more perfect. Oh, wait, maybe some pie. Shoot, I keep adding things.

Published: Thu, Jul 28, 2011