Mario Carbone's Lobster Fra Diavolo (Torrisi Italian Specialties, Parm, and Carbone, New York)
Credit: Photograph by Christopher Testani

You may remember lobster "from the devil" as a staple of tacky red-sauce joints, but Mario Carbone defends it with a time-honored claim most of us make about sex and pizza: "Even the bad ones are pretty good." He and partner Rich Torrisi have built a mini empire on updates of classic Italian and Italian-American dishes that most people thought had gone the way of the sun-dried tomato. "It is eighties, but that's my sweet spot," Carbone jokes. His modern take, which uses bits of angel hair pasta to thicken the sauce that's spooned over the lobster, is still dramatic enough to earn oohs and aahs when you set it on the table.

Lobster Fra Diavolo Recipe
(Yields 1–2 servings)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 cups shellfish stock
  • 3 tsp Calabrian chili paste
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce
  • One 2 1/2 lb live lobster
  • Salt
  • Lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 1/2-inch pieces angel hair pasta, about 1/4 cup
  • 2 tsp parsley, finely chopped

For the sauce:

Step One
Sauté onions, carrots, and celery in olive oil until completely tender. Set aside.

Step Two
In separate pan, over medium heat, lightly toast garlic. As it begins to brown, add crushed red pepper. Once it's softened, add cooked vegetables and tomato paste. Cook 5 minutes.

Step Three
Add brandy and white wine, and cook until alcohol aroma is gone, about 10 minutes.

Step Four
Add shellfish stock and bring to a simmer.

Step Five
Add Calabrian chili paste to taste, then tomato sauce. Set aside to cool.

For the lobster:

Step One
Drop lobster in boiling water and cook for 1–2 minutes so it is par-cooked but still rare inside. Shock it in ice water.

Step Two
Separate knuckles and claws. Steam or poach body until almost cooked. Separately, steam or poach knuckles and claws until cooked through. Submerge body and parts in an ice bath to stop cooking process.

Step Three
Split lobster body in half from head to tail. Season with salt and lemon juice. Re-steam until cooked through.

Step Four
Separate knuckle and claw meat from shells. Brush body with melted butter and chili paste.

Step Five
Bring small pot of water to a boil. Cook angel-hair pasta. Add to fra diavolo sauce, and mix in knuckle and claw meat. Finish with parsley, lemon juice, salt to taste, and a splash of brandy.

Step Six
Spoon finished pasta and lobster mixture over the split lobster body. Serve.