NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

October 3, 2012

Good Eaton: A perfect year to enjoy some lobster

Good Eaton
Bryan Eaton

---- — My great-aunt from Seabrook once told me back in the early ’80s that when she was a child “all we could afford was lobster. Now I can’t afford lobster.”

When she was a kid, lobster was very cheap and looked down upon by many upscale restaurants. But that view quickly changed over the years as New Hampshire and Maine became tourist destinations and those who traveled there got a taste for my favorite food. We were lucky because my grandfather, my aunt’s brother, went lobstering. A carpenter, he pulled in his own lobster traps to make extra money.

I went lobstering with him on occasion, and my first chore was to haul bait from his backyard. I’ll never forget the distinctive smell of hake baking in barrels in the summer sun as I scooped the bait into 5-gallon buckets. The strong odor was needed to draw the lobsters to the traps. I had to help him pull up the traps from Seabrook and Hampton Beaches, which was no easy task for a 12- or 13 year-old. I was quite happy when he finally bought a motor with a winch to pull the traps up instead of using my arms. After a day out with my grandfather, I would go home with a dozen or so lobsters.

Lobsters aren’t free for me anymore, but this year has been good to those of us who love the crustaceans as their prices have been very low.

I love lobsters simply with butter, roast potatoes and coleslaw, but on occasion, I’ll make these dishes with leftover lobster meat.

Lobster Baked with Cracker Crumbs

I use David’s Fish Market crumbs, but you can get some cracker crumbs or seafood stuffing from other seafood stores or at the supermarket. Crushed Ritz crackers will do as well.

The amount will depend on what kind of pan you are using. I have individual casserole dishes that are oven safe, and I use meat from about a 1-and-a quarter pound lobster, plus a little more per serving. This doesn’t take long to prepare since you are using lobster that has already been cooked.

For one serving:

About a cup of cooked lobster meat

Butter or butter substitute, melted

Sherry

Cream

White pepper

Cracker crumbs or seafood stuffing

Lemon and parsley to garnish

Toss the lobster with the melted butter. Spread into your casserole dishes. Sprinkle with a little white-or black-pepper and add a splash each of sherry and cream.

Top with the crumbs and bake at 350 degrees for 4 or 5 minutes, then broil for about 2 minutes to get a golden brown top. Keep your eye on the dish as you don’t want the top to blacken.

Lobster Stock

This will make about a quart, but you can certainly make a larger batch if you wish. I use this for any seafood soup or chowder.

Shells from 3 cooked lobsters

2 large stalks of celery, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1/3 stick of butter

2 bay leaves

5-6 peppercorns

Water

Melt the butter and add the other ingredients, smashing the shells with a large spoon. Let cook for a couple minutes on low, stirring once or twice.

Add water to cover by an inch or so, and bring back to a simmer for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Turn the heat off and let cool a bit.

Strain through cheesecloth and refrigerate or freeze for later use.

Lobster and Roasted Corn Chowder

I use a little flour to thicken this slightly.

2 ears of corn

Meat from 3 1-

1/4 pound cooked lobsters, cut in pieces

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

1 medium onion, peeled, chopped

1 quart or so lobster, chicken or vegetable stock

Chopped thyme, or a herb such as parsley

1 pint light cream

1/2 stick butter

3 tablespoons of flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Rub some oil on the corn, and grill or broil in the oven until the kernels char a bit. Remove, cool and cut off the kernels. In a saucepan warm the stock and cream to barely a simmer then turn the heat off.

In a stock pot melt the butter, add the celery and onion and cook until barely soft and add the flour. Stir to thicken and begin to ladle in the warmed stock throwing in the thyme at some point.

When all the stock has been incorporated. add the corn and lobster and bring to a slight simmer.

Season to taste. Add more stock, milk or cream if needed. Serves about two as a meal or four as a first course.

Lobster and Red Pepper Frittata

I use mushrooms, onions and red pepper for this, but you can substitute what you have. Toss in some fresh herbs if you like.

1 to 2 cups lobster meat, chopped

5 eggs

1/2 red bell pepper, seeds removed and chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

A handful of button mushrooms, sliced

Butter or substitute

Parmesan or Asiago cheese

Salt and pepper

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Beat the eggs well in a mixing bowl and set aside.

Using a 10 to 12 inch non-stick pan, saute the vegetables in some butter until barely soft, then add the lobster and salt and pepper and stir to heat.

Add the eggs to the pan shaking back and forth to let the eggs coat the ingredients and settle at the bottom of the pan.

Turn the heat off and top the frittata with grated cheese. Put into the oven for about 6-8 minutes, then turn the oven to a low broil for a minute or two to crisp the top.

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Bryan Eaton, the photo editor at The Daily News, is a sometimes chef and gardener.