Maine Lobster Stew

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It was the summer of 1992 and I had just graduated high school when my best friend asked me to go to Maine with her. She wanted to visit a guy she liked who had recently moved. I wasn't all that excited about it, to be honest. I knew we would have a great time together, but I was really only going along so she could see her crush. As it turns out, my dad had a business trip planned to Boston for later in the summer, so we all went there for a few days of sight-seeing and Red Sox baseball before my friend and I took the short bus trip up to Portland, Maine.
When we got there we met up with her friend who took us to his fraternity house where we would be staying for a few days. It was summer so most of the guys weren't there, and that's probably why my parents let me go!! It was pretty quiet so my friend and I were just sitting out front when all of the sudden this little red car came screaming down the street and into the driveway - windows down, music blaring, and a cute guy driving. I soon found out that his name was Jon and he had a strong Maine accent and used words like "wicked" and "pissah." I was immediately smitten. And get this - not even 24 hours later I told my friend that this guy was the guy I was going to marry.
Fast forward almost 24 years and here we are... married almost 13 years with this adorable little five and a half year old who has so much energy, personality, will try anything, and has no fear. And as for my husband, he still has that awesome Maine accent.
So it should come as no surprise that my husband loves lobster. I love hearing his stories of having lobster races with his brother when they were kids before his mom would drop the lobsters into a pot of boiling water. Lobster was a part of life, not a luxury purchase, so to this day, he can't believe how expensive lobsters can get down here in PA. He was so used to getting cheap, fresh lobster whenever he wanted.
Several times when my father-in-law would come for a visit, he would bring us cooked lobster meat packed in dry ice. We made things like lobster rolls, lobster omelets and pasta with lobster. But for years my husband talked about his desire to make lobster stew. One night we were talking about our Christmas dinner menu ideas and he immediately said he wanted to make lobster stew.
I quickly learned that lobster stew doesn't have any meat or veggies - it is simply lobster meat in a warm cream base. But the way the stew base is created is what makes it so special. The word "stew" in lobster stew is more like a verb than a noun.
For weeks he researched recipes, analyzed them, pointed out what he liked and didn't like, until he found the most authentic recipe that reminded him of the lobster stew he used to eat in Maine. Then came the search for the perfect Maine lobsters. He visited a few seafood stores before deciding on one and placing his order.


Ingredients
  • 5 each 1.5lb Maine lobsters
  • As needed, salt
  • 12 Tbsp butter (separated, 8 Tbsp and 4 Tbsp)
  • 1 cup medium or dry sherry
  • 6 cups milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 pinch cayenne
  • 1-2 pinches paprika
  • To taste, salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 sprigs parsley, leaves only, cut into strips
Directions, Day 1
  1. Bring a very large pot of salted water to a boil
  2. Plunge the lobsters into the boiling water and boil until just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of ice-water to prevent them from cooking any longer, keeping them submerged until completely cool.
  3. Drain the lobsters and separate the tails from the bodies, setting the bodies aside. Crack the shells and remove all of the meat from the tails and claws (keep the ripper claw meat whole for beautiful presentation!!). Chop the meat into large chunks (again, except that ripper claw); cover and store in the fridge until day 2.
  4. Melt 8 Tbsp butter in a large heavy bottomed pot (he used our Dutch Oven) over medium-high heat. Add the lobster bodies and tail shells and cook, stirring often, until the shells turn a deep red, 5-8 minutes.
  5. Add sherry and boil for 2 minutes, and then add the milk and cream and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, until milk and cream reduce by one-quarter and thickens slightly, 20-25 minutes. Add cayenne, paprika, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove pot from the heat and set aside to cool. Once cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Directions, Day 2
  1. Strain the milk mixture into another medium pot, discarding the bodies and solids, and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. (My husband notes that the next time he makes this he will heat the mixture just a touch before straining in order to soften any of the fats to save them from being discarded). 
  2. Meanwhile melt 4 Tbsp butter in a large skillet. Add the lobster meat and heat until warmed through, 3-5 minutes, and then transfer the meat to the pot with the milk mixture. 
  3. Add lemon juice and adjust seasonings. 
  4. Divide stew between 6 bowls (this made more like 8 servings) and garnish with parsley. 
You can find complete recipes of this Maine Lobster Stew in maryellenscookingcreations.com
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