We have a terrific cookbook out, Best New England Recipes, which covers 75 years of recipes from Yankee Magazine. While going through our archives, from 1979, I came upon this fool-proof advice for "perfect" lobsters, from Bertha Nunan.
According to Bertha, the wife of a lobsterman, "The secret to cooking lobsters is not to murder them. Give them a nice, slow, respectable way out. Don't put them in boiling water, and don't drown them in too much water. Boiling them in a lot of water just boils their flavor out, and too much water waterlogs them.
1. I put in two inches of water, whether I'm cooking two lobsters or 14.
2. I take a salt container, and with the spout open, I pour it three times around the pot; then, plop! at the end [about three teaspoons].
3. When the water is boiling, put in the lobsters, put the lid on, and steam them for 20 minutes. Not a minute less or a minute more....
4. When they're done, draw up your butter and serve the lobster with a dish of vinegar as well.
5. Now the next step is what a lot of people, and practically all restaurants, ignore:
I always put in fresh salted water for every batch of lobsters." (Emphasis added).
Annie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine's food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.