Red Sauce How Italian Food Became American

James Beard’s French-Style Lobster Fra Diavolo

By on Tuesday, November 30th, 2021 at 8:12 am | 16 views

Lobster Fra Diavolo is a true American invention. That didn’t stop James Beard from trying to assign as having French origins.

Beard was a noted Francophile, and his interest in giving the French credit for an American dish may have just been his way of adding credibility to it.

Beard’s recipe was based on his lobster l’americaine, an French recipe for American lobster. To turn it into fra diavolo, he added a small amount of spice.

The notable differences between Beard’s recipe and the recipes more commonly part of the red sauce tradition was his interest in serving the dish with rice. Early versions of the dish with Italian immigrant influences served the dish alongside pasta, and then later as a sauce dressing the pasta.

This recipe is adapted from American Cookery by James Beard, 1972.

Serve with rice.


2 lobsters
2 ½ cups canned tomatoes
½ cup oil
4 tbsp chopped parsley
1 ½ tsp oregano
Pinch of cloves
Pinch of mace
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
½ cup cognac


Slice lobsters lengthwise.
Heat oil.
Sear lobster meat, in shell, in oil.
Lower heat.
Simmer 10 minutes.
Add tomatoes, herbs, spices, garlic, onion, and cover.
Simmer 15 minutes.
Plate the lobster around rice.
Flambé with cognac.