One of the highlights of the week for many of the passengers on our windjammer is our traditional Maine lobster bake – a feature of all our trips. It’s an all-you-can-eat feast with all the fixin’s. Seven lobsters eaten by one person in one sitting is our record, although I wouldn’t recommend it; she seemed pretty uncomfortable afterward.

After anchoring near an undisturbed island in the early afternoon, the yawl boat (our launch and tugboat) ferries us ashore and we hop across granite rocks to the beach. Everyone wanders off in different directions – exploring inland, walking the shore, swimming – some even help set up for dinner. The crew has already rowed ashore and brought everything we need to the island, and we all work to put the meal together for our guests.

A fire is lit, corn is shucked, and various goodies are put out to tide us over until the lobster is ready. Once the fire is really going, the lobster pot – a huge galvanized tub – is filled with 2 to 3 inches of salt water and set on the fire to boil. While we wait for the water to come to a boil, several armloads of seaweed are gathered (being careful to leave some seaweed at each spot so that more can grow back in its place).

Once the water is boiling we layer the lobsters, corn, mussels, and clams in the pot, cover it with a “lid” of seaweed, wait for it to come to a boil, and rotate the pot (for even cooking on the fire). When the water comes to second boil, we’ll pull some of the seaweed aside and check to see that the lobsters are red all over. When the lobsters are done, the tub is carried away from the fire, the seaweed is arranged on a flat rock, and everything is placed on the seaweed bed – ready to eat!

Once everyone has had their fill of lobster, the watermelon is sliced and the makings for s’mores are laid out. There’s always a lively discussion over how to make the best s’more, and the proper way to roast a marshmallow (recipe below, of course).

While we are on an island for our lobster bake we operate under a Leave No Trace policy. Whatever we take onto the island, we take off. Often we leave with more than we came with, as picking up litter while exploring an island is our contribution to leaving an island better than we found it. Our fires are built below the high tide line in a fire pan to protect the beach rocks from any scarring or cracking; five minutes after we’ve left an island, you can’t tell we’ve been there.

While a beach is admittedly very nice scenery for this meal, it’s not absolutely necessary. Your backyard could do very nicely. Should you choose to find a beach to celebrate your lobsters, make sure that you have permission to be there and a fire permit if you need one. This could actually be an eventful dinner for your guests from out of state who are clamoring for their not only first taste of lobster, but their third and fourth. Should you choose something simpler, a light recipe for a lobster salad is included as well.

Not only is this meal for the enjoyment of your guests, know that every time you purchase lobster you are supporting local families and businesses who help our state thrive.

LOBSTER BAKE IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD

Equipment: You’ll need to either make a roaring campfire or use a propane cooker on a tripod stand. It is also possible to use an outdoor grill on which to set the pot, but make sure that the heat can get high enough with the lid of the grill open or removed. You’ll also need a large pot with a steamer basket and lid in which to cook your lobsters. The size will vary, but for eight people, 12 lobsters, a 36-quart pot will do.

12 1 1/2 pound live lobsters

2 pounds clams

2 pounds mussels

8 ears of corn

8 small whole onions, peeled

2 whole heads garlic

1/2 cup salted butter, melted

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Watermelon, cut and served with s’mores

Bring 2 to 3 inches of salted water to a rolling boil in the lobster pot with the steamer basket inserted. Add the lobsters, clams, mussels, corn, onions and garlic and cover for 20 to 25 minutes. While the lobsters are cooking, melt the butter with the lemon and keep warm. Lobsters are done when they are red all over and the antennae pull off easily. Remove the steamer basket and arrange your feast onto several platters and serve hot with the melted butter.

Servings: Eight to 12

S’MORES

We’ve tried these on the propane burner before, and wouldn’t you know, it’s just not the same. Give it a miss unless you’ve got a real coal bed.

1/2 Hershey bar

1 full graham cracker, broken in half

2 marshmallows

Place the Hershey bar on top of one of the halves of graham cracker and move it close to the fire so the chocolate can get warm. Place two marshmallows on a metal roasting stick (not driftwood) and slowly turn it over the hot coals until it becomes golden brown. It’s important to take your time here as the impatient folks end up with a burnt marshmallow. Some poor souls actually like them this way – go figure.

Servings: One

LOBSTER AND CORN PASTA SALAD WITH CITRUS VINAIGRETTE

To serve as a light dinner, double the Citrus Vinaigrette recipe and toss half of it with mixed greens to make a bed for the pasta salad. Serve with fresh bread and a Sauvignon blanc.

4 cups cooked farfalle (bowtie) pasta (about 3 cups uncooked)

16 ounces cooked and coarsely chopped lobster meat; about 4 1 1/4-pound lobsters

2 cups fresh corn kernels, about 4 ears

1/2 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers

1/2 cup chopped green onions

Citrus Vinaigrette:

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

2 teaspoons grated orange rind

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In a large serving bowl, combine the pasta, lobster, corn, peppers and onions. Whisk remaining ingredients in a small bowl and toss with the lobster and pasta mixture. Cover and chill.

Servings: Six to eight

 

Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of “At Home, At Sea.” She can be reached at: chefanni[email protected]