Get Crackin’

lobstahSecond day back at this and I’m going to hit you with a recipe. Why? Because I just about overdosed on lobster this summer and now am acutely aware of the enjoyment that this strange sea animal can bring a person. In years past, I have been the only lobster lover in my house. Kids were intrigued but not quite ready to attack something that looks like a giant crimson insect and contains that very unappealing green stuff. Husband didn’t grow up eating shellfish much, so I’ve been on my own. But then a funny thing happened…hubby started liking lobster. It has generally been one of those foods where the work doesn’t quite equal the payoff to him, but I’ve been trying to convince him that half the fun of eating lobster is in the sport of it. It’s an experience meal.

This reminds me of a great memory that I have of my dear grandpa. It was my college graduation weekend and, being that it was the early nineties, a bunch of my family hit the local TGIFridays the first night that everyone rolled into town (the meals and restaurants got better as the weekend progressed, I promise). Well, my grandpa was one of those fine fellows who was up for anything and just rolled with the punches. And he loved his food.

So, we all ordered and he thought he’d try something new (to him): a fajita.

Soon our meals arrived and his, in all of its steaming, sizzling glory, was plunked down on the table in front of him. He took a look at it. He looked again. And then said “what is this?”. We proceeded to explain to him that it was sort of like a soft taco and you had to put it all together. “What? I have to put my own meal together?….at a restaurant??”. My grandpa was no stranger to the kitchen (we still all think about his great salads) but the idea of having to assemble his own meal in a restaurant and then pay them was just too bizarre for him. I get it. Fajitas really are one of the biggest rackets going, if you think about it that way.

Lobsters are sort of like the ol’ fajita. Someone cooks it and then, if you are going the traditional steamed route, you get to pull it apart and work for your meal. And also pay top price for it. That’s the part my husband has sort of had a problem with up until this summer….BUT, he finally started loving all the sweet meat that was found after you cracked, cracked, and cracked some more and that has won out.

I am bemused to report that this summer, I had several steamed lobster dinners, lobster cakes, chowder with lobster, a variety of lobster rolls and most recently, lobster fritters. I think I’ve covered most of the crustacean’s bases. And I’m sure that when I go for my annual check-up, my cholesterol numbers will remind me of all of this fun. But numbers be damned, I loved my lobsters. All of them.

Here I give you a soup recipe that utilizes all the wonderful corn that is plentiful right now (and finally tastes wonderful!) as well as lobsters, which last time I checked the paper are selling for about 3.99 in some areas (mine thankfully 😉

*If you don’t want to use whole milk, I have made plenty of chowdahs with skim milk and they turn out just fine. Slightly thinned in consistency, but still flavorful enough. Also, if the notion of using 2 cups of heavy cream (which you do need) is not appealing to you, then maybe just serve this chowder in small shot glasses as appetizers. It is rich enough to be enjoyable in smaller doses! Perfect for those late summer get-togethers ….

Lobster Corn Chowder, courtesy of The Barefoot Contessa


3 (1 1/2-pound) cooked lobsters, cracked and split
3 ears corn
For the stock:

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup cream sherry
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup dry white wine
For the soup:

1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/4 pound bacon, large-diced
2 cups large-diced unpeeled Yukon gold potatoes (2 medium)
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
2 cups diced celery (3 to 4 stalks)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup cream sherry
Remove the meat from the shells of the lobsters. Cut the meat into large cubes and place them in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Reserve the shells and all the juices that collect. Cut the corn kernels from the cobs and set aside, reserving the cobs separately.

For the stock, melt the butter in a stockpot or Dutch oven large enough to hold all the lobster shells and corncobs. Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat for 7 minutes, until translucent but not browned, stirring occasionally. Add the sherry and paprika and cook for 1 minute. Add the milk, cream, wine, lobster shells and their juices, and corn cobs and bring to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and simmer the stock over the lowest heat for 30 minutes. (I move the pot halfway off the heat.)

Meanwhile, in another stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil and cook the bacon for 4 to 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until browned and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add the potatoes, onions, celery, corn kernels, salt, and pepper to the same pot and saute for 5 minutes. When the stock is ready, remove the largest pieces of lobster shell and the corn cobs with tongs and discard. Place a strainer over the soup pot and carefully pour the stock into the pot with the potatoes and corn. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Add the cooked lobster, the chives and the sherry and season to taste. Heat gently and serve hot with a garnish of crisp bacon.

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