This recipe calls for lobster tails, because they’re easier to handle and available frozen year-round, but I also love making the sauce with whole Maine lobsters. If you want to try it that way, separate the claws and small legs from the bodies of three lobsters. Remove and halve the tails, halve the heads and bodies, and clean out the head and the digestive tract that runs along the back. Proceed to flour and fry and make the sauce as described in the recipe. Add the claws and legs a few minutes before you add the rest of the lobster to the sauce. If you use whole lobsters, put a big bowl in the middle of the table for your family to throw the shells into. It is quite a bit of fun to see everyone working through the lobster with their hands, getting all the meat out, fingers dirty. I taught my children and my grandchildren how to eat whole lobsters so not a tiny bit gets wasted, going through each piece with care.
- Kosher salt
- 6 lobster tails, halved lengthwise
- All-purpose flour, for dredging
- Vegetable oil, for frying the lobster
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- One 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
- 3 fresh bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Sicilian oregano on the branch
- 1/2 teaspoon peperoncino flakes
- 1 pound linguine
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
Season the cut sides of the lobster with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread some flour on a plate, and dredge the cut sides of the lobster lightly in flour. Heat about 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear the lobster pieces all over, removing them to a plate as they brown. Pour out the oil, and wipe the Dutch oven clean.
Return the Dutch oven to medium heat, and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic. Add a ladle-full of pasta water, and cook until the onion is tender, about 8 minutes. Add the white wine, and reduce it by half, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, 1 teaspoon salt, the oregano, and the peperoncino. Rinse out the tomato can with 1 cup pasta water, and add that as well. Bring the liquid to a simmer, and cook until the sauce is thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the tail pieces, and simmer until they are cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove the tails to a medium skillet or saucepan with about 1 cup sauce, and keep them warm over very low heat (you don’t want to cook the lobster any more, just keep it warm). Remove and discard the garlic cloves and bay leaves.
Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water, and stir. When the pasta is al dente, remove it with tongs to the simmering sauce. Sprinkle with the parsley, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Toss to coat the pasta in the sauce. Serve the pasta with the lobster on top, and drizzle with any remaining sauce.