Chris Schlesinger & John Willoughby
(more info)

Plain Grilled Lobster

from The Thrill of the Grill (William Morrow and Company, 1990)

The flavor of this dish is direct, honest, and impeccable, and its simplicity is a tribute to the inherent beauty of food. As is true in most cases, if you use high quality fresh ingredients, the best thing to do is leave them alone and let the taste come through . Grilled corn on the cob is a great side dish here.


  • 4 - 2 to 2 1/2 pound whole lobsters
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • Melted butter
  • Lemon halves

1. Split the lobsters in half lengthwise. To do this, place each lobster on its back and insert the point of a large French knife into the head just below the eyes. Bring the knife down through the tail, making sure to cut just through the meat and to leave the shell connected. Lay the lobster open, leaving the two halves slightly attached.

2. Pull off the claws and legs from the lobsters and crack them slightly with the knife handle. You just want to fracture the shell a bit here.

3. Place the claws and legs on the grill over medium-low heat and cover with a pie pan. Cook them for 5 or 7 minutes per side.

4. Sprinkle the lobster bodies with salt and pepper to taste and place them flesh-side down on the grill over medium heat. Grill for 8 to 10 minutes. (You don't need to turn these guys at all.) Check to see if they are done by removing the tail from the shell of one of the lobsters. The exposed meat should be completely opaque.

5. Remove the lobster from the grill and serve them with melted butter, lemon halves, and nut-crackers if you have them. If not, use a hammer for the claws. Make sure you have paper towels handy, because this is a messy one. Serve with corn (see below).

Serves 4 as a main course

Your Basic Grilled Corn Strategy

There are any number of methods for dealing with corn on the grill, each with its own merits. After many years of experimentation, I have settled on the following combination of several techniques.

The traditional method has you peel away the outer husk without actually removing it, remove the inner silky threads, then wrap the outer husk back around the ear. You then soak the ear in water and finally place it on the grill, where it cooks by steaming. This method produces tasty corn, but to me it is missing the taste of the fire. So I follow this method until the corn is just cooked, which takes about 15 to 20 minutes over a low fire. I then remove the husks, brush on a little butter, season with salt and pepper, and roll the ears around on the grill ever so slightly, just to add a little char.

Another method calls for the interior silk to be removed and for the corn to then be wrapped in foil along with butter and seasonings and roasted in the coals for 12 to 15 minutes. This is also an excellent method, although again it misses the taste of the fire.

Whichever technique you use, summer corn cooked on the grill is a welcome addition to any meal, its natural simplicity making for some outstanding eating.


Chris Schlesinger grew up in Virginia and, at age eighteen, dropped out of school to wash dishes. He soon graduated to fry cook, went on to receive his formal training at the Culinary Institute of America, and subsequently cooked in restaurants ranging from Hawaiian burger joints to New England's finest dining rooms. In 1985, he and partner Cary Wheaton opened the East Coast Grill in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and in 1987, they opened Jake and Earl's Dixie Barbecue next door.

John Willoughby was born and raised in Iowa and graduated form Harvard University in 1970. He has worked as a community organizer, legal services advocate, health administrator and free-lance writer in the Boston area, and for three years worked part-time with Chris Schlesinger in the kitchen of the East Coast Grill. He has published articles about food in several national magazines and is the feature writer for Cook's Magazine.


   Published: 1999