No matter how you prepare them, Maine lobsters are a gourmet treat any time of year. But at Christmas, lobster is often celebrated as the Christmas Eve dinner main course.
For some hungry family members, the bigger the Christmas lobster is, the better. A few jumbo lobster recipe cooking tips may help.
In just a few days Christmas Eve chefs all across the country will boil, steam, bake or grill Maine lobster. But cooking those jumbo lobster to satisfy family members can be tricky. Care must be taken not to overcook, or the meat will toughen. Under-cook a jumbo lobster and the lobster will not have its succulent flavor.
Given this challenge, even experienced cooks may be surprised to learn that that the lobster antennae can play a role in helping chefs determine when a whole lobster is cooked and ready to take out of the steam pot.
Steve, a former Downeast Maine lobster fisherman who now lives in North Port, Florida, recently shared with Lobsters-Online an experience he had with jumbo lobster. He says timing how long a big lobster cooks is not always accurate as those on the bottom may cook faster than those on the top. To double check if a lobster is done, Steve firmly stands by the practice of giving a pull on the lobster antenna. If the antennae pops off easily, the lobster is done. If it stays on, the lobster needs to cook a little longer.
“I have cooked thousands of lobsters of all sizes. Giving a slight tug on the antenna has worked for over 50 years for me.”
“I was a lobster fisherman back in the 70s,” Steve said. “I have cooked thousands of lobsters of all sizes. Giving a slight tug on the antenna has worked for over 50 years for me.”
Steve said once for his birthday at a restaurant he ordered a giant 13-pound lobster for himself and a 10-pound lobster for his sister.
“When the waitress brought them to my table I gave the antenna a slight tug and the whole lobster came with it,” Steve said. “I told the waitress that they where not cooked and asked her to take them back and have them cook them some more . The cook then came out to my table with the manager and he told me that if they cook it anymore that it will be tough.”
Steve said he then broke the 10-pound lobster open and showed everyone that the meat was not fully cooked. The manager apologized and took them back to cook some more.
“I told the manager about the antenna on the lobster breaking loose when it was done,” Steve said. “He came back to my table with the lobster and I gave the antenna a tug and it came off . I opened up the lobster and cut a piece of the tail and gave it to the manager and he agreed that it was tender and that it was cooked just right .”
“Cooking lobsters according to time tables does not work all the time and they can be raw or become over cooked,” he said, adding that it is also important to move the lobsters around in the pot to make sure they cook more evenly.
Looking to wow the family with your traditional Christmas Eve lobster dinner? Try this baked-stuffed lobster recipe dazzling with pine nuts, dried apricots and rosemary for a fantastic gourmet holiday feast.
Make sure you start with ocean fresh lobster from Maine. Order for home delivery from your favorite online lobster delivery service. Then gather up the following ingredients.
Let’s Get Ready:
4 1 ½ lb Live Maine lobsters
1 stick butter
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup finely diced dried apricots
10 oz. brioche, cut into ¾” cubes
1 ½ cups diced celery, diced onion, diced fennel
Dash dried red pepper flakes
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
16 sprigs rosemary
Let’s Start Cooking:
In a large (16-quart) cook pot, bring 3 cups of water to a roiling boil. Place lobsters one at a time head first into the pot and cover tightly with lid. Cook for seven (7) minutes, making sure to stir the lobster once or twice. Remove the lobsters and set aside and let cool. Save the liquid in the pot. Once cool, use a large chef knife to open the claws and remove the meat. Set meat aside and discard the shells. Twist the body from the tail and slice open the body and remove the insides leaving just the outer shell. Remove the legs from the body shell. Save the shell. Use chef’s scissors to cut the outer edges of the underside of the tail and remove the meat. Discard the cut tail shell piece and save the tail shell. Clean the lobster meat over a bowl to save the juices. Strain 3 cups of the liquid from the pot into the bowl. Dice all the lobster meat except for four of the claws. Leave 4 of the 8 claws whole.
Prepare the stuffing
Bring oven to 350 degrees and toast the brioche until golden brown, about seven to 10 minutes. In a large sauté pan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and apricots and cook, stirring frequently. Cook until apricots have darkened and the pine nuts have toasted to deep brown. Add in the onion, celery and fennel and stir. Cook for three to five minutes until the celery begins to soften. Add the red pepper flake, fresh ground pepper, parsley and a pinch of salt. Add the toasted brioche and toss the mixture. Add three cups of the reserved liquid and combine with mixture. Cook over low heat until the bread has absorbed the liquid, about three to five minutes. Add the diced lobster meat to the mixture and toss to combine. Keep the stuffing warm.
Position the Lobster Shells
Next position the lobster tail shells and body shells on a sheet tray. Fill each shell with a generous portion of the warm stuffing. Place the rosemary aside each shell. Pre-heat broiler to medium-high and cook for seven to 10 minutes until golden brown. Then add the four claws, one atop each lobster, and cook one more minute. Serve immediately.
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.
While the New England Lobster feast is a year round tradition older than America itself, New England seafood was a part of the first Thanksgiving. According to historical lore, the pilgrims first learned about the lobster from Native Americans.
In a letter home to England in 1621, the Pilgrim Edward Winslow wrote of how they fished, hunted and brought in the harvest to set out a feast for the entire pilgrim company and guests, including the Indian King Massasoit and 90 Indians. Winslow wrote that the feast lasted for five days. The Winslow letter was published in England in 1622 causing great excitement and helping to start the tradion of a Thanksgiving feast.
So while turkey has center stage today, the pilgrims first feast gave the lobster clambake a starring role with the turkey. For many New Englanders, the lobster is an alternative part of Thanksgiving.
The story is told about how seven Nationally known Boston Chefs eschewed the turkey one year and took the pilgrim lobster tradition to their Thanksgiving Holiday table. An article in Food and Wine Magazine published more than a decade ago tells the story of how the chef’s and their families got together at Lydia Shire’s (Biba, Towne Stove) farmhouse home in Weston, Massachusetts and created a “potluck extravaganza” to revolutionize Thanksgiving dinner.
Chef Todd English (Olives, Figs) brought the lobster and served it in its shell with a warm, creamy nutmeg vinaigrette and a chestnut puree. Every chef contributed, including Jody Adams (Rialto), Gordon Hamersley (Hammersley Bistro), Susan Regis (Biba), Chris Schlesinger (East Coast Grill), and Jasper White (Jaspers, Summer Shack). The menu included the lobster, cod, oysters, pumpkin soup, turkey and more.
While this menu would be overwhelming for most home kitchens, the tradition of holiday feasts with all the wonderful seafood from the cold, clean New England waters can be part of any family celebration this year. Thanksgiving Dinner can be extra special by serving fresh lobster and shellfish. The best part is you no longer have to go to Plimouth Plantation, Cape Cod or Maine to enjoy Maine lobster. Thanks to an online retail lobster delivery service, live Maine lobster can be shipped overnight to any home in the United States.
Along comes October in New England and the tree leaves along the lobster coast are turning into an ocean of color. The days are shorter, evenings cooler and once again it’s time for a hot bowl of homemade Boston Lobster and Corn Chowder. Made with Fresh Maine lobster and freshly harvested corn on the cob, this seasonal chowder makes a great meal for the Fall.
The Boston Lobster and Corn Chowder recipe* includes cooking a lobster stock so it will take about two hours to prepare. The recipe will provide 4 to 6 bowls or more of chowder. While the recipe is a favorite for the Fall when fresh corn is available, it can be made year round with seasonal corn or fresh frozen kernels.
Boston Lobster Corn Chowder Cooking Directions
Use a 10-quart stock pot filled two thirds with sea water or fresh water heavily salted, bring water to roiling boil and add the live lobster one at a time. You only want to blanche the lobster by cooking four to six minutes. Remove the lobster and set aside to cool.
Crack the shells with a large chef knife and pick all the meat from the tails, claws, legs and bodies. Remove the intestinal track from the cartilage and tail. Dice the meat into ¾ inch cubes, cover and refrigerate. The bodies and left over shells will be used in the lobster stock. The stock will take more than an hour to prepare so that must be the next step (see Lobster Stock Directions below).
While the lobster stock is simmering, husk the corn and rub with a dry towel to remove all the silk. Carve the kernels from the cob and set aside. Break the cobs in half and add to the simmering lobster stock.
When the stock is ready, using a six-quart pot, heat the bacon until golden brown and pour off all but one tablespoon of bacon grease. Add butter, thyme and onion and sauté until onions are soft. Add paprika and stir about two minutes.
Add the potatoes, corn kernels and enough lobster stock to completely cover the potatoes. Increase heat and bring pot to a boil. Cover and cook for 12 minutes until the potatoes are just softened on the outside.
Add the lobster meat and the cream and remove the pot from the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to stand a few minutes for flavors to meld.
To serve, spoon the lobster, potatoes and corn into a large bowl and then ladle in the creamy broth. Garnish with chives and chopped parsley.
Use a six or eight-quart stock pot. Add the lobster carcasses, shells and tomalley to the pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Skim any scum from the surface. Reduce heat to a fast simmer. Add the wine, tomatoes, onions, celery, carrots, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns and fennel seeds. Let simmer for an hour or more until the flavor is rich. Strain the stock though a fine mesh and draw off enough to add to the chowder as required. Any extra stock may be frozen and kept up to two months.
There is nothing that says sunshine and sea as the taste of a specially prepared, fresh lobster roll on a toasted New England bun. Waterfront clam and lobster shacks have been serving up lobster rolls all summer. Now, you can make your own anywhere and anytime of year.
Cape Cod, Ipswich, Massachusetts and the Maine seacoast are world famous for the lobster roll made with freshly caught lobster. The lobster meat, cooked to sweet perfection, is served overflowing a top loading bun. Add a side of chips, a cold beer and a sunny table, and you’re there. The recipe may vary a bit from town to town but it always begins with freshly caught lobster.
A lobster roll from the Clam Box, Ipswich, MA
This longing for the opening of lobster-shack season was made all the more interesting when recently it was learned that Chuck Hughes, owner of the Garde-Manger Restaurant in Montreal, was named Food TV Iron Chef of America, in part because of his preparation of a good old Maine lobster roll. That’s right. The judges went crazy for his lobster roll!
For those of you who share our passion for the lobster roll but can’t go to Maine or Cape Cod, we decided to share Chef Hughes winning lobster roll recipe. We have only few hints to add.
The lobster must be fresh and healthy, so only order from a reputable lobster online dealer. Ask for a couple of females so that you can collect the lobster roe to make lobster butter. Boil the lobster in a large pot of salted water and take care not to over cook. Overcooking will make the meat tough. When opening the cooked lobster, cut the meat into large chunks. And finally, make sure to pick a quality, top-loading bun.
Lobster Fra Diavolo, the dish by which all other seafood dishes are judged! Be forewarned, preparing this seafood feast it not for the feint of heart. But the wonderful culinary rewards are worth it.
To introduce our dish, you should know that “Diavolo” is Italian for devil. As a culinary term it is used to describe a tomato based sauce that is liberally spiced, with “Fra Diavolo” the Italian term for brother devil: a spicy sauce prepared with linguine and fresh seafood.
Our dish calls for preparing a homemade lobster stock made from fresh Maine Lobster. A favorite of Boston’s North End, the Boston Lobster Fra Diavolo recipe will feature lobster, clams and mussels and take four and one-half (4 ½) hours to prepare both the homemade lobster stock and the sauce. The recipe will serve four to six people.
The first step is to prepare the lobster stock. This begins by blanching the live lobsters, cracking the claws and tails and removing the meat. Set the lobster meat aside. Please see the directions for the lobster stock preparation below.
Bring 1-gallon of salted water in large pot to a boil and add the pasta to the pot. Partially cook for 5 minutes, drain and drizzle with olive oil. Set aside. While cooking the pasta, place a 14-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onions to the pan and cook until caramelized, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and shallots and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the red pepper flakes and sauté about 30 seconds. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Cook the ingredients until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
Add the clams to the pan, cover and cook about three minutes. Add the mussels to the pan, cover and cook about three minutes. Add the lobster to the pan and cook for two minutes. Add the parsley to the pan. Add the partially cooked pasta to the pan. Add 1 ½ cup of the lobster stock and continue to cook. Toss the pasta in the sauce until al dente, about four to five minutes. Season the pasta with the salt and toss again. Garnish with fresh basil and serve.
Par boil lobster for five minutes, cool and remove meat from claws and tails
Add lobster body, cracked claw and tail shells
1/8 cup vegetable oil
2 celery ribs, cut in quarters
2 tomatoes, chopped coarsely
1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 small fennel bulb
1 small head garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions Lobster Stock
Heat vegetable oil in large stock pot. Add the empty lobster claw and tail shells and stir. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, tomatoes and thyme. Cut the fennel and garlic bulbs in half and add to the pot. Cover ingredients with two inches of water. Bring pot to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until mixture is reduced by half (about 4 hours). Add salt and black pepper to season. Strain stock and set liquid aside.
The recipe screams to be served with a sparkling Rose Champagne or a light, traditional Chianti.
We are having a family feast for Labor Day 2015. The guests of honor, as it always is for the Labor Day Holiday, is the Wellfleet Oyster and fresh Maine Lobster.
The late Howard Mitcham, a renowned chef that called Provincetown, Cape Cod home, called the Wellfleet Oyster the best in the world. In his book, entitled “Clams, Mussels and Oysters …” Mitcham wrote that the flavor of oysters varies widely from region to region. And as anyone who has eaten a raw Oyster knows, the flavor is complex. Oysters can be sweet, salty, earthy, or even melon.
After last Saturday, two dozen Wellfleet Oysters later, we are in complete agreement with Mitcham that the Wellfleet Oyster is the most succulent, sweet oyster in the world. The clean, crisp, cold Cape Cod waters help produce a wonderful abundance of Wellfleet Oysters, and they are prized by locals and visitors alike.
Interestingly, the Wellfleet Oyster is a transplant from Connecticut and the Chesapeake Bay. After Cape Cod oysters were nearly fished out in the 1800s, the Wellfleet locals introduced young southern oysters into their waters. The oysters were fattened up on sparkling clean river estuaries and then harvested and sold in Boston. This created the first aquaculture, as it is known today. The result was a lucrative success for the harvesters and a joy to the taste buds for the rest of us.
Experts believe the cold water and the 12-foot tides combine to help make the Wellfleet oyster plump and sweet by providing them with ample, ocean-fresh plankton.
Generations later, the flavor of a Wellfleet Oyster is as distinct as Cape Cod itself. Today, people all over the country order Wellfleet Oysters and have the oysters delivered right to their door as fresh as if they were just purchased from a Cape Cod market.
Some people are intimidated by the challenge of opening an oyster. And everyone has their own special technique. But there some basic steps and advice that proves true.
When selecting an oyster from a fish market bin, try to pick the ones that have a very hard shell as opposed to oysters with a brittle shell. A hard shell usually signifies a plump, healthy oyster inside. Make sure to keep the oysters cool when you bring them home.
Get a good oyster knife as no other kind of knife will work. You will need one old work glove or a heavy hand towel to hold the oyster with. When ready to open, scrub the oysters under fresh running water to remove any sand but do not immerse them in water. Place them on ice or on a flat pan in a refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow them to rest. This will allow the oysters to relax and make them easier to open.
Hold the oyster with flat side up. Place the knife at the small end of the oyster, or the heel. Press the knife into the heel and twist. If it is too hard to open, some folks will hold the oyster and knife vertically and then tap the base of the knife handle on a cutting board or stone. This drives the knife with a good nudge into the muscle and makes it easer to pop open the shell. Try not to spill the oyster juices. Once open, slice under the muscle to cut the oyster from the bottom shell and place the opened oyster shell on a plate of crushed ice. This keeps the oyster level and cold. Serve immediately.
The traditional serving is with a side of fresh lemon, cocktail sauce and horseradish. A robust red wine compliments the complex flavor of the Wellfleet Oyster nicely. Most adults can eat a dozen or more, so be sure to order enough.
This time of summer the Atlantic Harpoon swordfish are in season. New England fishermen call it “harpoon” season. The fisherman, or “strikers,” head out to the Western Atlantic Ocean in small fishing boats and actually hunt the ocean surface for the swordfish. When one is spotted near the surface the striker harpoons the big fish by hand. A fish caught this way can range from 150 to 600 pounds.
A striker goes after a Swordfish on a calm day.
Each day the daily catch is brought in and sold to local markets, and the Swordfish steaks usually end up on someone’s plate in less than 24 hours, creating an incredible New England seafood experience for enlightened connoisseurs.
The practice of harpooning swordfish predates industrial scale fishing or “long line fishing” where thousands of baited hooks hang on floated lines that can be more than 30 miles long. The long-line hooks do not discriminate between the type and size of fish caught and experts say the practice in the past has depleted swordfish stocks in some places. International laws are now in place now to limit the catch of the long lines, and these fishermen are closely monitored.
Harpoon swordfish hunters, or “strikers,” take their catch at a much slower, more selective rate. The strikers only go after the large fish that are well past breeding age and avoid baby swordfish in the breeding grounds. The fish are then delivered fresh daily to markets and restaurants in New England. The selective practice presents no threat to swordfish stocks.
While swordfish are found worldwide they are only in season in New England during the summer when the water is warmer. According to research, the big fish tend to congregate where ocean waters have sharp temperature breaks (above 58°F) and where strong ocean currents meet. This creates a turbulent environment where there is abundant food. Along with the strikers, sport fishermen also ply these waters with rod and tackle seeking the big Swordfish.
Whether broiled, baked, grilled or on a kabob, fresh from the ocean swordfish is a favorite of first-time seafood initiates as well as seafood connoisseurs. Swordfish has a meaty texture and mild flavor. Swordfish also offers a low-fat, low-calorie healthy choice for all seafood lovers. Fresh swordfish is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other vitamins and minerals that are good for the heart.
Atlantic Harpoon Swordfish, fresh off the dock, is among the most popular Boston and Cape Cod seafood treats. This time of summer, many downtown restaurants feature day-boat swordfish steaks. In fact, the delicious fish is almost as popular as a specialty steak in Boston steakhouses.
Fresh Harpoon Swordfish Marinated and Grilled
The most popular fresh summer swordfish recipe is also the simplest. Marinated and grilled.
Here is a great recipe for a one-pound, 1 ½ -inch thick fresh swordfish steak.
Mix in a bowl:
a teaspoon of fresh chopped basil,
½ cup of olive oil,
a small clove of chopped fresh garlic,
fresh ground pepper to taste.
If desired, a dash of fresh lime or lemon juice may be added.
Coat the steak and let marinate for one to two hours. Cook on a medium-high grill for four minutes on each side, or until firm to the touch. Only flip the steak once. Do not overcook as the swordfish will get dry very quickly. Remove from the grill and let stand for one minute before partitioning. Leave the skin on when grilling to help keep the fish moist but remove to partition and serve.
Today fresh Atlantic swordfish can be shipped overnight by a Cape Codonline seafood retailer anywhere in the United States. This means anyone – from Florida to Kansas – can enjoy delicious swordfish that only 24 hours earlier were swimming in the clean, crisp ocean waters off Cape Cod.