Maine Lobster Mac

 maine lobster mac and cheese 
Maine Lobster Mac and Cheese

Today I wanted to do something special for the other staff here on the island. We had some lobster left over from the last dinner so I decided to make everybody a nice, hearty lunch. 

 maine lobster 
I’ve wanted to make a lobster mac for a long time so I seized the opportunity. The result was even better than I anticipated. I am seriously in love with this dish. Here is my recipe for lobster mac.

 maine lobster mac and cheese 

Maine Lobster Mac and Cheese

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

8 oz. salt pork or pancetta, diced

1 small onion, diced

2 Tbsp butter

3 Tbsp flour

2 cups milk

8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

8 oz. pasta

1 pound cooked lobster meat

1/4 cup chives, chopped

Ground black pepper

Topping:

2 Tbsp butter

4 oz. crackers, crushed

Directions:

Heat a medium pot and add vegetable oil. Add salt pork and cook until the fat is rendered and pork is golden brown.

  
Add diced onion and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, five or six minutes.

  
Add butter and allow to melt. I like to bring all the pork and onion to one side of the pot and let the fat collect on the other before I whisk in the flour, but it is not absolutely necessary.

  

When the butter is completely melted, gradually add in your flour and whisk over medium heat to make a roux. When all the lumps are worked out and mixture starts to smell nutty, gradually add milk while whisking.

  
Bring mixture to a simmer and cook over medium heat five more minutes, stirring frequently.

  
Reduce heat to low and add cheddar cheese, stirring until completely melted.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 F and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

  
Elbow macaroni is a traditional choice but I didn’t have any so I used these garden ruffles instead.

Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente.

  
Immediately after draining pasta, add to sauce and stir to combine.

  
Remove lobster from the shell, and cut into large chunks.

  
Add to pot along with chopped chives and fresh ground black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

  
Transfer into a 2 inch deep, oven safe casserole dish.

  
To prepare topping, crumble crackers into a bowl (I used John Wm. Macy’s Asiago and Cheddar Cheese Crisps but just about any cracker will do). Add melted butter and stir to combine.

  
Place crackers on top of the casserole in an even layer and bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

  
Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

Dinner For One: Maine Lobster Carbonara

  
Maine Lobster Carbonara

This take on the Italian classic was perfect for a quick dinner at home. Where I am in Maine, it can be hard to find pancetta, let alone guanciale. What we do have on this side of the Atlantic Ocean is salt pork, which is not so different than pancetta or bacon and considerably less expensive. A little lobster brings this dish the rest of the way across the Atlantic and adds some sweetness to round out the salty fatty pork and the rich, peppery sauce.

Ingredients:

Olive oil

4 oz. salt pork, diced small

1-2 steamed lobster tails, depending on size, cut into pieces

4 oz dry spaghetti

1 egg, beaten

4 oz. Romano or Parmesan cheese, shredded

Black pepper

Directions:

Heat a sauté pan and add a little olive oil. When oil is hot, add the diced salt pork and cook over medium heat until fat is rendered and pork is crispy.

  
Turn off heat and add the lobster pieces, stirring to warm.

  
Cook spaghetti according to package directions, reserving some of the pasta water.

  
Remove spaghetti from water and add to the pan, stirring to coat with the rendered pork fat. Add beaten egg and stir to coat. Add cheese and black pepper as well as some hot pasta water and stir well. The heat from the spaghetti and pasta water should cook the egg just enough to thicken slightly and coat the noodles. Place in a dish and garnish with a little more cheese and black pepper. Enjoy immediately.

  

Lobster BLT Lettuce Wrap

  
Lobster BLT Lettuce Wrap

I love a good Lobster BLT. The crispy bacon, sweet lobster salad and acidic tomato on toast with crunchy lettuce and mayonnaise is one of my favorite combinations.

Lately though, more and more guests are avoiding bread for a variety of reasons. While I love the classic, I felt a need to update this delicious dish to keep up with changing tastes so I ditched the bread and put the lettuce on the outside. Here is my recipe for Lobster BLT Lettuce Wraps.

Lobster BLT Lettuce Wraps

Makes 6 wraps

Ingredients:

Lobster Salad:

1/4 cup celery, small dice

1/3 cup mayonnaise

2 cups lobster meat cut into large pieces

Salt and pepper to taste

Wrap and Garnish:

6 romaine leaves

10 grape tomatoes, quartered

4 strips bacon (or more) cooked

Chives

Directions:

To make lobster salad, combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir briefly. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. 

Trim the root end off the romaine leaves. Rinse and dry thoroughly.

  
Chop bacon and chives and quarter tomatoes.

  
Place lettuce rib side down and fill with lobster salad.

Garnish with tomatoes, bacon and chives.

Serve immediately.

Lobster Quiche and Beef Tenderloin

Lobster Quiche and Beef Tenderloin

Today was the last day one of my favorite groups would be with us. They have humorously dubbed themselves, “The Youth Group,” and they are always a joy to cook for. I must admit, I am a little biased because I look forward to seeing them all when I return to Florida for the winter. I wanted to share a few of the gastronomic highlights of their last day on the island.

  

Lobster, Chanterelle and Chive Quiche

  

  
Grilled Whole Beef Tenderloin

  
Tomato and Avocado Salad with Orange Segments, Fresh Herbs and Aged Balsamic Vinegar

  

Dessert for Lovers
  
A Bittersweet Boat Ride Home

  

Lobster Roll

 lobster roll 
This week we ordered a few extra lobsters so we could enjoy an iconic Maine treat for lunch one day. The classic lobster roll is usually pretty simple. It is most often lobster meat tossed in mayonnaise or melted butter on a roll, maybe with a little chopped celery. I wanted to dress it up a little but not too much so I added some shallots and fresh herbs from the garden and the results were spectacular! I hope you enjoy my recipe for Maine lobster rolls.

maine lobster  
Lobster Rolls with Fresh Herbs

This recipe makes enough lobster salad for 8 lobster rolls.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 pounds lobster meat
1/8 cup minced shallot

1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/2 Tbsp white wine

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon

1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives

1 cup diced celery

Salt and pepper to taste

8 split top hot dog buns

Butter at room temperature

Directions:

Cut lobster meat into 1-2 inch pieces, removing any roe, bits of shell and the vein that runs down the middle of the tail. Set aside.

  
Combine shallot, lemon juice and white wine in a large bowl and whisk together.

  
Add mayonnaise, black pepper and fresh herbs and whisk to combine.

 tarragon parsley chives  

Add lobster meat and chopped celery and gently toss to coat. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

 lobster salad 
Heat up a griddle or large frying pan. Butter hot dog buns on both sides. This is just like making a grilled cheese sandwich but without the cheese.

  
Toast the buns on both sides and remove from griddle. Allow to cool slightly.

  
Fill the buns with lobster salad and watch them disappear!

 

Lobster Night

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Fridays are always a busy day on the island because Friday night is lobster night. There is something for everyone to do. My wife makes the trip into town to pick up fresh lobsters while I prepare the side dishes and get the fire ready. The ladies get the dining room ready and make the pies for dessert. Even the kids help shuck the corn and make everybody’s day a little brighter. We have all been doing this for years and it is a welcome routine that comes naturally.

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After the lobsters arrive it is time to build the fire. The wood needs about an hour to burn down into coals. When the coals are ready, it is time to set up the big steamers we use to cook the lobsters. People often ask me how you can tell when the lobsters are finished. They usually take about ten minutes per pound in a steamer so you can count on 20 minutes for 2 pound lobsters, 25 for 2.5 pounds and so on. Time is a good indicator of when to start checking the lobsters but the best way to tell when they are done is to pull on their antenna. If it pops off under the weight of the lobster, you can be confident it is fully cooked and ready to enjoy.

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The traditional lobster dinner is usually accompanied by steamed corn, potatoes, and lots of drawn butter. It is delicious but very rich. I was trying to find a way to cut through all this richness when I discovered watermelon salad. Cubed watermelon tossed with fresh mint, lime juice, red onions and feta cheese is a refreshing side dish that helps balance the entire meal. It was an instant classic and now we always have a big bowl of watermelon salad with every lobster dinner.

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When the lobsters are done, we gather in the kitchen and get to work. Rubber bands get snipped, tails get split and claws and knuckles are put on the platter. When the work is done, everybody finds a place at the table and prepares for the feast. Lobster crackers and picks in hand, everybody digs in and has their fill of Maine’s finest delicacy.

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Just when everybody has had so much lobster, corn, butter and watermelon salad that they feel they can’t eat another bite, it is time for dessert and everyone seems to find their second wind. No lobster dinner would be complete without a dessert of blueberry or rhubarb pie with vanilla ice cream. It is the perfect ending to a delicious meal.

Watermelon Feta Salad

Ingredients:

6 Cups Cubed Watermelon

1/2 Cup Sliced Red Onion

1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Mint

1/4 Cup Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Cup Crumbled Feta Cheese

Directions:

Combine first five ingredient in a large bowl and toss gently. Top with feta cheese and serve immediately.