Hi GUSsacks!!!! First things first and then second things second and so on:
1. Common Sense Mainer is pretty much a great inspiration for GUS diaries. He gave up smoking exactly a year prior to the GUS inauguration -- four years ago, June 15;
2. Common Sense Mainer is drop dead hot and lives with the insufferable but also drop dead hot, Bill in Portland Maine (who wouldn't want that living arrangement???);
3. I have zero clue if CSM cooks lobster or anything else. I'm pretty confident that Bill expects famous people to send gift certificates for food or restaurants; and
4. They both live in Maine -- lobster preparation capitol of the universe -- even though there's a real contender here in Connecticut. Also, too, this year, there is a glut of lobsters for now so the price is quite bargain basement, relatively speaking.
Sooooo, today is GUS lobster day and, oh, yeah, we are trying to give up or have given up smoking.
GUS (Gave Up Smoking) is a community support diary for Kossacks in the midst of quitting smoking. Any supportive comments, suggestions or positive distractions are appreciated. If you are quitting or thinking of quitting, please -- join us! We kindly ask that politics be left out.Why have I settled on recipes? Cooking is both a distraction from smoking and a reminder why it is a good thing to quit -- food tastes better. And your friends will appreciate the smoke free environment. And if your friends are smokers -- cooking and dining is a great way to share your advocacy for them to try to quit as well.
A message to ALL quitters. You don't have to avoid GUS if you have a failed quit. We won't give you a bad time and we consider the failed quits as "practice" for the real quit.
I'm Maryland born and have been a Nutmegger since 1966 except my few years back in Baltimore for law school. Connecticutians have a terrific network of small organic farms. We can get fresh produce and carnivore stuff locally. We are also one of the wettest States in the Union -- hence the term, Swamp Yankees. Although, real Swamp Yankees were the weenies hiding in the swamps in Eastern CT when they thought the Brits were coming to murther them. Because we have not just the Long Island Sound shoreline, but also a myriad of rivers, lakes, ponds and streams, we can take advantage of incredible fishing. Butttttttt --- the prize is always Maine lobster.
We have a place for that (prepared) other than our fish mongers. Abbott's Lobster in the Rough is in Noank, Connecticut. Think Mystic, Connecticut -- home of the Aquarium and that idiotic movie, "Mystic Pizza." Noank is next door. Abbott's is brilliant. Right on the Sound -- outdoor picnic tables, under a tent outdoor picnic tables and inside picnic tables. No table service -- go to the window -- order, and hope your deafness hasn't kicked in when they call your number. Steamed lobster, clams, mussels -- Rhode Island clam chowder, corn, desserts -- BYOB. Nirvana.
4 live lobsters, 3/4 to 2 pounds
4 wooden skewers
Drawn Butter, recipe follows
Choose a pot with a tight-fitting lid that is large enough to fit the lobsters comfortably with enough room for the steam to circulate around them. Wrap the lid tightly with a kitchen towel. Place a steamer basket or an upturned colander in the pot, and pour in cold water to a depth of about 2 inches. Cover and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, put the lobsters on a cutting board. Place the tip of a large, heavy knife at the cross marks on the back of a lobster's head. In one quick motion cut down through the head to the cutting board. Repeat with the remaining lobsters.
To keep the tails straight and ensure even cooking, slip a thin wooden skewer through the length of the lobster's tails.
When the water is boiling, quickly add the lobsters to the pot and cover. Steam the lobsters, shaking the pot occasionally, until cooked through, about 8 minutes for 3/4 to 1 pound lobsters, about 10 minutes for 1 to 1 1/4 pound lobsters, and about 11 minutes for 1 1/2 to 2 pound lobsters.
Remove the lobsters from the pot and, if you are serving them whole, set them aside for several minutes to rest. Using the back of the heavy knife or a mallet crack the claws. Transfer the lobsters to plates and serve with drawn butter and lobster claw crackers.
To remove all the meat from the lobster: Transfer the lobster to a colander in the sink and rinse under cold running water to stop the cooking. Using your hands, twist the claws, knuckles, and tails off of the lobsters. Reserve the bodies for making broth.
On a work surface, rest the tails on their sides and, using the palm of your hand, press down on them to crack the shells. Holding a tail with both hands, with the belly facing you, break the tail shell back and pop out the meat. Repeat with the remaining tails. If you have female lobsters (the swimmerets at top of the tail are soft and have hair-like wisps protruding from them), you may want to prepare CORAL BUTTER, (recipe follows) with the roe. The roe are the dark green eggs located in the body and the top of the tail. Carefully cut open the top of the tail and the body and remove the roe.
Grab the "thumb" of a lobster claw and move it back and forth. Try to wiggle the shell off of the meat while pulling out the internal piece of cartilage, leaving the meat attached to the claw (this is a tricky maneuver, if it doesn't work you should be able to shake the meat out). Place the claw horizontally upright with the curve of the claw facing up. Using the heavy part of the blade of the knife, with a short and swift motion, crack the back end of the claw. Drop the claw to its side and, with the back of the knife, crack the side of the back of the claw. Remove the cracked back end of the claw and wiggle the meat out from the shell. Repeat with the remaining claws.
Place the knuckles on the work surface and cover with a kitchen towel. Using the back of the knife, crack the knuckles. Using your hands, remove the shell from the knuckles and carefully pick out the meat. You may also use kitchen shears to cut open the knuckles and remove the meat.
1/2 pound unsalted butter
Place the butter in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 1 minute.
Set the saucepan aside and let the butter settle, undisturbed. The milk solids will come to the top of the butter and the watery whey will collect on the bottom. Skim off the milk solids with a spoon and pour the drawn butter into a serving bowl or several small ramekins, taking care not include the watery liquid in the bottom of the pan. Serve.
Yield: about 1 cup
1/2 pound unsalted butter
1 to 4 tablespoons lobster roe (eggs), also called coral, preferably uncooked
Place the butter in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 1 minute.
Set the saucepan aside and let the butter settle, undisturbed. The milk solids will come to the top of the butter and the watery whey will collect on the bottom. Skim off the milk solids with a spoon and pour the drawn butter into a small bowl. Wipe out the sauce and return the drawn butter to it.
Place the roe in a medium bowl and whisk lightly to break it up. Heat the butter over medium heat until just hot. Gradually pour the warmed butter over the roe, while whisking, until the eggs turn bright red. Serve with lobster or other shellfish.
Yield: about 1 cup
Lobster Mac and CheeseHere's a group you can invite over for your lobster cookout!!
4 tablespoons butter, plus 1 tablespoon for greasing dish
1 pound penne pasta
2 small shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white wine
4 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
2 cups shredded sharp white Cheddar
2 cups shredded Gruyere
2 (8-ounce) raw lobster tails, defrosted if frozen, meat removed from shell, chopped
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley leaves
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and adjust racks to the middle. Grease a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with butter.
In a large pot of boiling salted water over medium heat, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve.
Add 4 tablespoons butter to a large pot over medium heat. Once the butter shimmers, add the shallots and garlic and saute until translucent. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the tomato paste and flour and stir to toast, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the white wine and reduce, by half, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the cream, whisking well to remove any lumps. Add the paprika, cayenne, and bay leaf. Bring the cream up to a simmer and turn the heat to low. Let reduce until the cream is thick and can coat a spoon, about 5 to 10 minutes. When thickened, remove the bay leaves.
Stir in the grated cheeses, a handful at a time, combining well after each addition. Add the chopped lobster meat to the sauce and stir well. Add the pasta and stir. Add to the greased baking dish and sprinkle with the panko crumbs and parsley. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle individual servings with parsley.
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