With the Fourth of July just days away, the outdoor entertaining season with fresh Maine lobster is moving into full swing. With the lobster menu decided upon, the question that always comes up is what are the best wine and lobster pairings?
First of all, let’s answer the question that is most asked. No, you can not serve red wine with lobster. The tannin in red wine and the iodine in lobster will react, overpowering the delicate flavor of the lobster, giving the meat a metallic taste. Therefore, no red wine, not even Beaujolais or other kind of low-tannin red should be served. The Gamay of even a subtle red will over power the lobster. The only exception is Lobster fra Diavolo, when Chianti is the only choice. But that discussion is for another day.
Today we are entertaining outdoors and a traditional steamed lobster dinner is on the menu. So what wines are most enjoyable?
I will start out by saying beware of serving robust white wines such as the new types of Chardonnay that have overly vibrant fruit flavoring. The natural saltiness of lobster, as with any seafood, will amplify the flavor of a big fruity Chardonnay. So unless you are grilling your lobster, go with a Chardonnay that is gently touched with fruit, and mostly un-oaked.
Pouilly-fuisse & Lobster
For us, we prefer steamed lobster with a white burgundy such as Louis Jadot Pouilly-fuissé (2008 $18.99). This wine has wonderful Chardonnay flavors, minerals and just a bare touch of oak. The perfect pairing for enjoying the sweet, delicate taste of warm lobster dipped in melted lobster butter.
The first course should be Wellfleet oysters. They must be shucked and served as an appetizer. On a large platter covered with plenty of ice, arrange the oysters in circles with traditional New England red cocktail sauce, lemons and horse radish … the only way to serve oysters.
What wine to pair with raw oysters?
The world’s perfect oyster must be served with the perfect Champagne. We enjoy Taittinger Champagne La Francaise ($27.99). This sparkling wine has a high blend of Chardonnay grapes to yield a balance of stone fruit and crisp hints of bread crust. One sip of chilled Champagne, followed immediately by a world famous Wellfleet oyster, and your taste buds will explode. Trust me, you will love it.
Champagne & Oysters
The steamers and chowder should be served as the second course well before the lobster and paired with a zesty Chardonnay. I enjoy pairing the clams with La Crema Montery Chardonnay (2009 $20.00). This is a wine with its own fresh mineral notes and tropical aromas of lemon that will nicely pair with the sweet, ocean flavor of the steamer clams. Just chill the wine and serve.
Chardonnay & Steamers
Wellfleet Oysters and TaittingerChampagne; La Crema Chardonnay and Maine steamer clams (or shrimp); and of course, Louis Jadot Pouilly-fuissé and lobster; sweet, fresh lobster will all contribute to a memorable outdoor dining experience. The perfect pairings of three wines with three courses of all the best seafood New England has to offer will have your dinner guests abuzz. Believe us when we say, it does not get any better than this.
Just let us know what time we should be there for dinner.
Are you ready to enjoy your Maine Lobster? Here’s a few tips on how to eat a whole Maine Lobster and have you looking like a seafood aficionado in no time.
First gather up a nutcracker (or pliers), a small fork and nut pick. After molting, a lobster will have a soft shell and be pliable. If you have a hard shell lobster, a pair of lobster scissors will make short work of cracking the claws and getting the meat out.
Before serving it is best to let a boiled or steamed lobster drain for a minute. It’s a good idea to pierce the tail at the chest of the body with a chef’s knife to allow water to drain faster. Serve the lobster hot.
A bib is recommended when cracking as you can never tell when some water is likely to spray out right onto your shirt. Make sure you have plenty of towels, too. Melt the butter and slice up some lemon. Put the bib on and you are ready.
Hold the body of the lobster with one hand and twist the claw off with the other. The claw will break off where it connects to the body.
Crack each claw along its length with the nut cracker or cut with the lobster shell open with the lobster scissors. Remove the meat from the claws by pushing the meat out from the end of the claw with the small fork or pick.
Grab the lobster body again and twist the tail from the body. Pull the flippers from the tail. Crack the tail along its length and push the meat out from one end with the fork. Remove the tail meat in one piece and discard the vein that runs along the length. Next pick the meat from the flippers.
Twist the small legs from the body and remove the meat from the legs with the pick. You can also choose to squeeze the meat from the legs with your teeth.
Next separate the shell from the body by pulling the shell apart on the underside. The shell will disconnect from the body exposing the tenderest meat of the lobster. Remove and discard the green substance called the tomalley. Remove the meat from the body and leg joints with a pick.
The rest of the lobster should be discarded.
Note: If found, the roe (red female eggs) are often considered a delicacy and used to make lobster butter or is used in the stuffing for baked stuffed lobster.
For families all across the country, the traditional Christmas Eve dinner is celebrated with lobster as either the main course or a first course. This year, for many chefs, baked stuffed lobster tails will take center stage.
Here is a traditional baked stuffed lobster tail recipe, courtesy of Chef Christopher Russel of Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Russell is a former Maine Lobster Council Chef of the Year.
Plan on one 1-1/2 pound-lobster per person, or if convenience dictates, fresh or frozen lobster tails may be purchased instead of whole live lobster.
(4 servings, cook time 20 minutes, preparation 25 minutes, total meal in 45 minutes)
4 live Maine lobsters, each 1-1/2 pounds *
8 Tablespoons butter
2 Cups finely chopped onions (about 2 medium)
4 Tablespoons fresh parsley finely chopped
2 Teaspoons Old Bay seafood seasoning
4 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 Cups Ritz crackers crumbled (6 ounces)
Boil salted water in a large kettle or pot. Cook the whole lobsters for 5 minutes. Remove lobsters and place in an ice water tub to cool. Crack and pick the meat from the claws, knuckles and body. Chop lobster meat into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. Split the tails lengthwise down the center with a sharp knife, being sure to keep the shell-side of the lobsters facing up. Make sure to keep the shells intact. Remove the tail meat from the shell and remove the intestinal track from the meat. Then carefully insert the whole tail meat back into the shell.
For the stuffing, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onion. Sauté until soft. Stir in the parsley, Old Bay seasoning and lemon juice. Remove the skillet from heat and let cool. Stir in the chopped lobster claw and knuckle meat. Gently add in the cracker crumbs and stir. Using a spoon, add the the stuffing into the lobster tails. Refrigerate the lobster tails until ready to bake. When ready, preheat the oven to 425-degrees . Bake the tails until the stuffing is golden and crisp, about 15 – 20 minutes. Serve immediately with wedges of lemon and let the dinner party begin!
46 grams protein
37 grams carbohydrates
36 grams fat
1196 mg. sodium
2 grams fiber
* Instead of whole lobster, the dish may also be prepared with frozen Maine lobster tails. Boil water and just blanch the tails and carefully remove the meat, leaving the shell intact. Substitute 16 ounces of raw Maine crab meat or shrimp instead of the lobster knuckle and claw meat. Sauté the crab meat or shrimp with the onion and finish preparing the stuffing and the lobster tails as directed.5
No holiday is more New England than Thanksgiving. The holiday dinner is based on Pilgrim lore. So adding a first course of steamed Maine lobster served in the shell with nutmeg vinaigrette and chestnut puree would add a wonderful dimension to the Thanksgiving tradition. Not to mention being a big hit for guests and family.
The lobster recipe is from Boston celebrity Chef Todd English who is on the record for being a big fan of Thanksgiving day lobster. The recipe first appeared in Food and Wine Magazine. It is recommended that the nutmeg vinaigrette and chestnut puree be prepared the day before. The lobster recipe calls for 10 1-1/4 pound live lobsters steamed, and then halved with the lobster meat served in the shell.
The recipe will serve 20 people.
2 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
2 cups apple cider
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
Two 15-ounce cans whole chestnuts packed in water, drained
In a large saucepan, combine 1 cup of the stock with the cider, shallots, bay leaves and sherry vinegar. Boil over high heat until reduced by half, about 25 minutes. Add the heavy cream and nutmeg and simmer over moderate heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
In a medium saucepan, heat the vegetable oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until softened. Add the remaining 1 cup of stock and the chestnuts and simmer until the liquid reduces by a third, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the maple syrup and butter. Transfer the contents of the saucepan to a blender and puree until smooth. Blend in the crème fraîche. Transfer the puree to a clean saucepan and season with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.
Gently reheat the nutmeg vinaigrette. Add the scallions and parsley and season with salt and pepper.
Cut the lobster tail meat into 1-inch chunks and replace it in the tail sections of the lobsters. Spoon half of the chestnut puree in the center of each of 2 large platters. Arrange the lobster halves around the puree. Spoon the warm nutmeg vinaigrette over the lobsters, garnish the platters with the greens and serve at once.
MAKE AHEAD The lobster recipe can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight. Finish the vinaigrette and rewarm the chestnut puree before serving.
SELECTING A WINE The natural saltiness of lobster, as with any seafood, will amplify the flavor of a big fruity Chardonnay. Go with a first course Chardonnay that is gently touched with fruit, and mostly un-oaked.
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