Christmas Eve

Lobster Fra Diavolo (Pasta with Spicy Lobster-Tomato Sauce)

December 23, 2021
7 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

Lobster fra diavolo is a rich, spicy tomato sauce flavored with the essence of sherry and tossed with juicy lobster nestled on a bed of pasta. This delicious seafood dish is a must for my family’s Christmas Eve feast. I love pairing it with a hearty, long pasta like bucatini or fettuccine.

The added recipe for the stock makes a large quantity, so feel free to freeze any extra (for up to six months); it would make a great base for winter soups and stews. If you’re pressed for time, you can pick up prepared lobster meat and stock from your fishmonger instead of making your own. —Anna Francese Gass

Test Kitchen Notes

This rich, saucy dinner is just what a special occasion—or cold night with no other plans—calls for. Italian for “brother devil,” fra diavolo’s origins are up in the air. (Just don’t confuse it with Fra Diavolo, the nickname for Michele Pezza, an Italian guerrilla leader who fought against the French occupation of Naples in the late 1700s.) As Florence Fabricant reported for The New York Times in 1996, some experts claim it originated in Naples, while others insist it was born in New York. Either way, fra diavolo is a tomato sauce that doesn’t care whether you like it or not, unapologetically punchy with chiles and garlic. Some versions include oregano; this one opts for parsley. If you prefer one over the other, it won’t make or break the dish. Or if you’re feeling extra, why not both? If you don’t have or can’t find Calabrian chiles, you can substitute red pepper flakes to taste. And if sherry isn’t your drink of choice, and you don’t want most of a bottle leftover, a dry white wine would also do the trick. While it might be tempting to buy stock from the grocery store—resist! Simply by cooking the lobsters, you are already most of the way to homemade stock. Mostly hands-off, this step is what makes Anna’s lobster fra diavolo delightfully lobstery. Plus, you won’t use all of the stock, and since it keeps great in the freezer for months, you’ll have some down the road for fish soups, seafood risottos, or savory sauces.

This recipe is featured in the story, The Spicy Seafood Pasta My Family Makes Every Christmas Eve, sponsored by Muir Glen. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the pasta:
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 to 3 small Calabrian chiles, packed in oil, finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Muir Glen tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1 cup lobster or fish stock
  • 1 (28-ounce) can Muir Glen whole, peeled tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds dried pasta
  • 1 pound lobster meat (from three 1 1/2-pound lobsters)
  • 1 tablespoon flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped, for garnish
  • For the lobster and stock:
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 3 (1 1/2-pound) lobsters
  • 10 sprigs parsley
  • 1 small onion, cut in half
  1. For the pasta:
  2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the chiles, shallots, and garlic and cook until shallots are translucent and garlic is softened but not brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the tomato paste and mix to combine.
  4. Add the sherry and increase heat to medium-high, whisking to incorporate.
  5. Add the stock and continue whisking to make a uniform sauce. Lower heat to a simmer and allow sauce to reduce by half, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the tomatoes, salt, and 2 cups of water.
  7. Bring sauce to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove the lid and allow to cook for an additional 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
  9. When the pasta has 2 minutes left to cook, add the lobster to the sauce and mix to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
  10. Drain the pasta and add to the pot with the lobster sauce. Mix to combine and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with the chopped parsley.
  1. For the lobster and stock:
  2. In a large pot, add the salt to 10 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the 3 lobsters and wait for the water to return to a boil. Once it does, cook the lobsters for 7 minutes.
  3. Remove the lobsters from the cooking liquid and set aside to cool. Strain the cooking liquid and place the clear liquid back in the same large pot.
  4. Remove all the meat from the lobsters, then chop into 1/2-inch to 1-inch pieces and set aside.
  5. Rinse the shells to remove any debris, then add them back to the pot with the strained cooking liquid.
  6. Add the parsley and the cut onion halves to the water and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes, skimming any foam that rises to the top.
  8. Strain the broth and set aside. You will need 1 cup of stock for this recipe. The rest can be frozen for up to 6 months.

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