June 6, 2012

The Maine Ingredient: Good news for shellfish junkies: 'Lobster!'

By Brooke Dojny

Announcing ... the publication of my new book, "Lobster! 55 Fresh and Simple Recipes for Everyday Eating" (Storey Publishing), which should be in your local bookstores now.

Brooke Dojny's "Lobster!" is in bookstores now.

Courtesy photo

An author turns a cookbook manuscript in to the publisher a year or so ahead of publication and then waits to see what the team of editors, designers, photographers, food stylists, illustrators and printers produces.

Storey has a very talented team, and this book is a beauty – a small-format hardcover with a wonderful design all around. I could not be happier – or more proud.

Storey is throwing a launch party for the book this Saturday at Gritty McDuff's Brew Pub on Fore Street in Portland. It's open to the public from 2 to 4 p.m., so please stop by to say hello, sip a brew and snack on some lobster goodies prepared by Gritty's chef.

Meanwhile, if you're in the mood to cook up a beautiful lobster chowder, here are recipes from the book for a really lovely meal.

LOBSTER AND SWEET CORN CHOWDER

 This is an utterly delicious and gorgeous-to-look-at chowder, with its nuggets of yellow corn, pink-tinged lobster meat and flecks of thyme, spangled on top with pools of melted butter. It's some work to make, so when I go to the effort, I start this chowder as a main course and serve it with Focaccia Garlic Toasts and a platter of sliced tomatoes with basil dribbled with good olive oil. Strawberry Shortcake with Rich Egg Biscuit is an ideal finish.

Servings: Six as a main course

4 live lobsters (1¼ to 1½ pounds each), rinsed (see note)

1 teaspoon salt

¼ pound bacon, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 large celery stalk, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ cup dry white wine

4 medium all-purpose potatoes, diced (about 4 cups)

4 ears of corn, kernels cut from cob (or 2 cups frozen kernels)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

2 cups heavy cream

¼ teaspoon cayenne

Freshly ground black pepper

6 tablespoons butter

 Bring 7 cups of water to a boil in a large soup pot and add the 1 teaspoon salt. Add lobsters, cover, return to boil and cook, covered, until bright red and fully cooked, about 10 minutes per pound.

Use tongs to remove to a bowl, leaving cooking liquid in the pot. Break off lobster bodies, rinse out most of the tomalley (green material), and add bodies back to the pot. Return to boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain through a medium-mesh strainer into a bowl. You should have about 5 cups of broth.

Meanwhile, pick out lobster claw and tail meat, chop into bite-size pieces and refrigerate. (These steps can be done up to 24 hours ahead.)

Cook the bacon in a large soup pot over medium-low heat until crisp and fat is rendered, about 15 minutes. Remove bits with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, and reserve. Add onion and celery to the fat in the pan and cook over medium-high heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine and 5 cups lobster broth and bring to a boil, stirring.

Add the potatoes, corn and thyme, return to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer covered until potatoes are almost tender. Add the lobster, cream and cayenne, and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary. Cut butter into chunks and add to the chowder to melt. Serve immediately or, better yet, refrigerate overnight.

Reheat reserved bacon bits in the microwave. Ladle chowder into soup bowls, sprinkle with the bacon, and serve.

(Continued on page 2)

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