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Pilgrims Had Lobster on First Thanksgiving

 

Add Maine Lobster to your Thanksgiving feast.

While the New England Lobster feast is a year round tradition older than America itself, New England seafood was a part of the first Thanksgiving. According to historical lore, the pilgrims first learned about the lobster from Native Americans.

Pilgrims Had Lobster at First Thanksgiving

In a letter home to England in 1621, the Pilgrim Edward Winslow wrote of how they fished, hunted and brought in the harvest to set out a feast for the entire pilgrim company and guests, including the Indian King Massasoit and 90 Indians. Winslow wrote that the feast lasted for five days. The Winslow letter was published in England in 1622 causing great excitement and helping to start the tradion of a Thanksgiving feast.

So while turkey has center stage today, the pilgrims first feast gave the lobster clambake a starring role with the turkey. For many New Englanders, the lobster is an alternative part of Thanksgiving.  Create your own Thanksgiving clambake this holiday season.

The story is told about how seven Nationally known Boston Chefs eschewed the turkey one year and took the pilgrim lobster tradition to their Thanksgiving Holiday table. An article in Food and Wine Magazine published more than a decade ago tells the story of how the chef’s and their families got together at Lydia Shire’s (Biba, Towne Stove) farmhouse home in Weston, Massachusetts and created a “potluck extravaganza” to revolutionize Thanksgiving dinner.

Chef Todd English (Olives, Figs) brought the lobster and served it in its shell with a warm, creamy nutmeg vinaigrette and a chestnut puree. Every chef contributed, including Jody Adams (Rialto), Gordon Hamersley (Hammersley Bistro), Susan Regis (Biba), Chris Schlesinger (East Coast Grill), and Jasper White (Jaspers, Summer Shack). The menu included the lobster, cod, oysters, pumpkin soup, turkey and more.

First Thanksgiving Plymouth Massachusetts

First Thanksgiving

 

While this menu would be overwhelming for most home kitchens, the tradition of holiday feasts with all the wonderful seafood from the cold, clean New England waters can be part of any family celebration this year. Thanksgiving Dinner can be extra special by serving fresh lobster and shellfish. The best part is you no longer have to go to Plimouth Plantation, Cape Cod or Maine to enjoy Maine lobster. Thanks to an online retail lobster delivery service,  live Maine lobster can be shipped overnight to any home in the United States.

Let’s eat lobster!

© Wayne Howe 2018

 

 

 

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Boston Lobster Corn Chowder Recipe a Fall Favorite

lobster corn chowder in a bowl

Corn Chowder Recipe a Fall Favorite

 

Along comes Fall in late September in New England and the tree leaves along the lobster coast are turning into an ocean of color. The days are shorter, evenings cooler and once again it’s time for a hot bowl of homemade Boston Lobster and Corn Chowder.  Made with Fresh Maine lobster and freshly harvested corn on the cob, this seasonal chowder makes a great meal for the Fall.

Try This Homemade Boston Lobster Corn Chowder Recipe

The Boston Lobster and Corn Chowder recipe* includes cooking a lobster stock so it will take about two hours to prepare.  The recipe will provide 4 to 6 bowls or more of chowder.  While the recipe is a favorite for the Fall when fresh corn is available, it can be made year round with seasonal corn or fresh frozen kernels.

Boston Lobster and Corn Chowder

Boston Lobster Corn Chowder Cooking Directions

Use a 10-quart stock pot filled two thirds with sea water or fresh water heavily salted,   bring water to roiling boil and add the live lobster one at a time. You only want to blanche the lobster by cooking four to six minutes.  Remove the lobster and set aside to cool.

Crack the shells with a large chef knife and pick all the meat from the tails, claws, legs and bodies. Remove the intestinal track from the cartilage and tail. Dice the meat into ¾ inch cubes, cover and refrigerate.  The bodies and left over shells will be used in the lobster stock.  The stock will take more than an hour to prepare so that must be the next step (see Lobster Stock Directions below).

Take Your Time Making Lobster Stock

While the lobster stock is simmering, husk the corn and rub with a dry towel to remove all the silk.  Carve the kernels from the cob and set aside.  Break the cobs in half and add to the simmering lobster stock.

When the stock is ready, using a six-quart pot, heat the bacon until golden brown and pour off all but one tablespoon of bacon grease.  Add butter, thyme and onion and sauté until onions are soft. Add paprika and stir about two minutes.

Add the potatoes, corn kernels and enough lobster stock to completely cover the potatoes.  Increase heat and bring pot to a boil. Cover and cook for 12 minutes until the potatoes are just softened on the outside.

Add Plenty of Maine Lobster Meat

Add the lobster meat and the cream and remove the pot from the heat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Allow to stand a few minutes for flavors to meld.

To serve, spoon the lobster, potatoes and corn into a large bowl and then ladle in the creamy broth.  Garnish with chives and chopped parsley.

Lobster Stock Directions

Use a six or eight-quart stock pot.  Add the lobster carcasses, shells and tomalley to the pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Skim any scum from the surface. Reduce heat to a fast simmer. Add the wine, tomatoes, onions, celery, carrots, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns and fennel seeds.  Let simmer for an hour or more until the flavor is rich.  Strain the stock though a fine mesh and draw off enough to add to the chowder as required.  Any extra stock may be frozen and kept up to two months.

 

Boston Lobster Corn Chowder Ingredients

  • 3 1 ¼ pound live lobsters,  hard-shell
  • 3 large ears freshly harvested yellow corn
  • 4 ounces unsliced bacon with  rind removed and diced
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme with leaves removed and chopped
  • 1 ½ pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups heavy cream
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives minced

Lobster Stock Ingredients

  • lobster carcasses and shells
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 2 small carrots, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • Sea salt

* Traditional Lobster and Corn Chowder recipe made famous by Boston chef Jasper White.

© Wayne Howe 2018

 

 

 

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Wellfleet Oysters are the Best in the World!

 

Raw Wellfleet oysters on plate

Wellfleet Oysters are the Best in the World!

That is why one of the “guests of honor”  for the Labor Day Holiday is the Wellfleet Oyster and fresh Maine Lobster.

The late Howard Mitcham, a renowned chef that called Provincetown, Cape Cod home, called the Wellfleet Oyster the best in the world. In his book, entitled “Clams, Mussels and Oysters …”  Mitcham wrote that the flavor of oysters varies widely from region to region. And as anyone who has eaten a raw Oyster knows, the flavor is complex. Oysters can be sweet, salty, earthy, or even melon.

After last Saturday, two dozen Wellfleet Oysters later, we are in complete agreement with Mitcham that the Wellfleet Oyster is the most succulent, sweet oyster in the world.   The clean, crisp, cold Cape Cod waters help produce a wonderful abundance of Wellfleet Oysters, and they are prized by locals and visitors alike.

Interestingly, the Wellfleet Oyster is a transplant from Connecticut and the Chesapeake Bay.  After Cape Cod oysters were nearly fished out in the 1800s, the Wellfleet locals introduced young southern oysters into their waters.  The oysters were fattened up on sparkling clean river estuaries and then harvested and sold in Boston.  This created the first aquaculture, as it is known today. The result was a lucrative success for the harvesters and a joy to the taste buds for the rest of us.

Experts believe the cold water and the 12-foot tides combine to help make the Wellfleet oyster plump and sweet by providing them with ample, ocean-fresh plankton.

Generations later, the flavor of a Wellfleet Oyster is as distinct as Cape Cod itself.   Today, people all over the country order Wellfleet Oysters and have the oysters delivered right to their door as fresh as if they were just purchased from a Cape Cod market.

Some people are intimidated by the challenge of opening an oyster.  And everyone has their own special technique. But there some basic steps and advice that proves true.

When selecting an oyster from a fish market bin, try to pick the ones that have a very hard shell as opposed to oysters with a brittle shell.  A hard shell usually signifies a plump, healthy oyster inside. Make sure to keep the oysters cool when you bring them home.

Dexter Oyster Knife

Get a good oyster knife as no other kind of knife will work.  You will need one old work glove or a heavy hand towel to hold the oyster with. When ready to open, scrub the oysters under fresh running water to remove any sand but do not immerse them in water. Place them on ice or on a flat pan in a refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow them to rest.  This will allow the oysters to relax and make them easier to open.

Hold the oyster with flat side up. Place the knife at the small end of the oyster, or the heel.  Press the knife into the heel and twist. If it is too hard to open, some folks will hold the oyster and knife vertically and then tap the base of the knife handle on a cutting board or stone.  This drives the knife with a good nudge into the muscle and makes it easier to pop open the shell.  Try not to spill the oyster juices. Once open, slice under the muscle to cut the oyster from the bottom shell and place the opened oyster shell on a plate of crushed ice.  This keeps the oyster level and cold. Serve immediately.

The traditional serving is with a side of fresh lemon, cocktail sauce and horseradish.  A robust red wine compliments the complex flavor of the Wellfleet Oyster nicely.  Most adults can eat a dozen or more, so be sure to order enough.

Be sure to check out the Wellfleet Oysterfest in Wellfleet, MA October 14th and 15th.

© Wayne Howe 2017


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