Lobster Fra Diavolo



My parents have been celebrating NYE with two of their closest friends for as long as I can remember.  We would be dressed up and my parents would have an especially nice dinner.  Lobster was often part of the menu.  At the time, I thought they looked like giant bugs but now few ingredients seem more festive and special.


While some of the lobster meat is mixed into the sauce, I love the drama of  having the lobster tails on top.  Make people work a little for their lobster.  This can get messy though so feel free to remove all the lobster meat from the tails and mix it in before serving.


I can’t emphasize enough how delicious this dish turned out.  There are so many layers of flavor and while it’s indulgent, it doesn’t feel heavy.  The original recipe calls for whole lobsters but I went with only tails…. I’m not at the lobster killing stage of my life yet.  I’ve put a lot of make ahead instructions here so you can be busy making mems with your friends instead of stuck in the kitchen.  Happy Holidays!


You’ll need (for four):

  • 2.5 pounds lobster tails *
  • Olive oil, (roughly 0.5 cup total)
  • Salt
  • 0.5 cup brandy
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, peeled and chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5 tablespoon chili pepper paste
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 28 ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 2.5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 0.25 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Lemon wedges for serving

To Make:

  1. Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife butterfly lobster tails by cutting them in half down the middle.  Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a dutch oven pot or any large pot over medium-high heat.  Meanwhile, season lobster tails with salt and pepper.
  2. Place lobster tail, meat side down, in dutch oven.  Heat for 4-5 minutes until tails are bright red and meat is cooked.  Add more oil if necessary.
  3. Remove lobster tails and place on baking sheets.  Let cool slightly. Remove the meat from half of the tails and chop into large bite size pieces.  Hold on to the empty tail.**
  4. Remove pot from heat and add brandy.  Return to heat and cook, scraping up browned bits for 2 minutes.  Transfer this mixture to small bowl. Wipe out pot you were using.***
  5. Pulse onions, carrots and fennel in a food processor, one at a time, until finely chopped, transfer vegetables to a bowl after each is chopped.****
  6. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive in the dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add vegetables, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, 8-10 minutes.
  7. Add garlic, chili paste and red pepper flakes and stir for another two minutes.  Stir in tomato paste, season with salt and stir for three minutes.   Add wine and empty lobster shells and simmer until reduced by one-third, about two minutes.  Add tomato puree to pot and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened, 10-15 minutes.  Discard lobster tails.*****
  8. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.  Drain, reserving 1.5 cups pasta water.
  9. Add butter, lobster meat, lobster tails, pasta, and brandy mixture to tomato sauce.  Add pasta water as needed to thin out sauce (I used 0.5 cup).  Cook, tossing to coat pasta.  A lot is going on so give it a good toss like you mean it.  Add half of parsley and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.  Transfer to platter, sprinkle with remaining parsley, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and lemon wedges.

*I got one large tail and two small tails at Whole Foods and thawed them by running them under cold water for several minutes

**I removed the meat from the large tail and kept the other tails to serve with the pasta.  If you don’t want to deal with the serving the lobster in the tails you can remove all the lobster meat and not serve the pasta with the lobster in the tails

***this whole part can be done ahead of time. Keep brandy mixture in Tupperware and keep tails in a Ziploc in the fridge.  Can be done up to 12 hours in advance.

****you could also chopp veggies up to 24 hours in advance and keep in an airtight container or Ziploc bag in the fridge.

***** you could make the sauce in advance up to 12 hours in advance, store with lid on in the fridge, return to simmer when ready to use

Inspired by BonAppetit

4 thoughts on “Lobster Fra Diavolo

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