Yum. I had such a great lunch today.... leftover lobster stew from Christmas Eve. It was soooooooo good. There's something completely decadent about even just saying the words "leftover lobster stew", heh heh. I mean, really ... how often does that happen??? See, last year I decided to make lobster stew to have with our Christmas Eve dinner, and it was so good that we decided that it should become an annual tradition. I, personally, am quite pleased with that decision!
Lobster stew is one of those rare foods that is waaaaaay better and more flavorful a day or two after it is made, so it only gets better with age (like most of us!). And on top of that, it is so easy to make that even a yarnshop lady can do it! I made lobster stew on Saturday, a day ahead of time, so it could sit for a day to age.... then on Sunday, Christmas Eve, we ate it and it was super delicious. BUT!!!! Then I had some for lunch today.... and it was even better, and this is probably my last blog post forever, because since I plan on having it for lunch again tomorrow, I will undoubtedly DIE of happiness! Heh heh.
Since this stew is bringing me so much joy, I figured I would share my recipe with you in case any of you want to give it a go. Trust me, lobster stew is totally tasty on any occasion... or on no occasion at all! Warning, though: this stew is so full of Things That Are Bad For You (there are only four ingredients and I am sure they are on pretty much on every doctor's Make A Scowly Face list) ... but geez... if you only make it once a year, can it really kill you???? Umm, don't answer that....
Okay, first of all you have to decide how much you love yourself. You need two pounds of lobster meat -- that's shelled, and cut up in bite-sized pieces. Now there are several ways to do this. None of them are really cost effective, by the way. Well.... one is: you can marry a lobsterman (or lobsterwoman) and beg for a few lobsters for stew. This way of getting lobster is cheaper, but has the long-term marriage effect. And there may be children. Fair warning. :D
Another way you can get lobster meat is to remember to go to French and Brawn Market in Camden (or your local fish market) and order 2 pounds of lobster meat. You will probably have to order it ahead of time because not too many places tend to have cooked & picked lobster meat just sitting there ready for purchase... it is enough work that it usually is done to order, and this means it is also very fresh. Prepare yourself, because purchasing lobster meat is expensive. It cost me $40 per pound for lobster meat this year, although if I remember right, it actually cost a little more last year. Yes, it's expensive (we had this conversation about cashmere, remember?), but as I was waiting at the fish & meat counter to pick it up on Saturday, I was talking with a friend waiting to pick up the meat she was roasting ... a hundred buck's worth.... so I figured $80 wasn't that far off from what others were having. You can save a little by ordering about 6 or 8 live lobsters, cooking them yourself and then spending a couple hours picking all the meat out of them. That will save you about $20, which you will then have to spend on extra booze or chocolate that you will need, to reward yourself for spending the afternoon up to your elbows in cooked lobster innards. To me, it's worth it in time and effort and mess to pay extra so that I can just pick up the lobster meat all cooked and packed in a nice little container... no mess!
First, go to the bathroom (you will thank me later), and then put your iPod and earphones near the stove and make sure the device is charged. This is very important. So... you have your two pounds of lobster, by hook or by crook. First you cut it into bite-sized pieces, and possibly taste several pieces as you go because, you know, you really should check to make sure it tastes good. It's a service you must perform as cook. Once the lobster is all cut up, take one whole stick (1/4 pound) of REAL butter (NOT margarine, NOT any form of butter-like substance, not any kind of oil. Real butter!!) and melt said stick of butter in the bottom of your stew pot over medium heat. Put all the lobster that you haven't
eaten tested into the pot with the butter. Marvel at the sublime pairing that fresh Maine lobster and real, melted butter make.... and then cook and stir the lobster in the butter for five or ten minutes or until it looks hot and buttery, and there is an orange liquid coating the bottom of the pan. You may possibly test a few more pieces of lobster again at this point, if you feel it needs it. This is the last time you will taste your stew until it has sat for a day, or five hours at least.
Then, over low heat, slowly pour in, a little at a time, a quart of half and half, stirring constantly. Once you have added all the half and half, add a quart or quart and a half (measuring is not particularly important here... add enough milk so you have enough volume of stew to feed the number of people who will be there to eat it) of whole milk and continue to stir over low heat until the stew is steaming. This will take a while and you will get tired of doing it. You will be tempted to turn the heat up and/or go sit in a chair very close to the stove and knit just a couple of rounds on that sock. DO NOT DO IT! Before you know it, a scum of scorched dairy product will form on the bottom of your good stew pot and $80 worth of lobster will acquire a rather unfortunate flavor. Tough it out, keep stirring, and don't turn up the heat. Trust me, it will be worth it. You went to the bathroom before you started, right? Like I told you to? And now you can put your earphones in your ears and turn on your iPod and listen to a couple CDs or fabulous knitting podcasts or several chapters of audiobooks, stirring merrily away, and reveling in how smart you were to give yourself this alone time to relax, stir, listen to good sounds, and maybe have a glass of wine if you thought to put it out before you started (No... you do not have time to go get the wine now, if it isn't in your glass already. Trust me.)
When the lobster stew is all steamy and your wine is gone and a lovely orange coating of melted butter is swirling on the top of the stew, it's time to stop. Do not eat the lobster stew now! Do not even taste it! Let it cool a bit and put it in the refrigerator and forget all about it until you are ready to heat it to eat later... wait at least five hours.... overnight is better!!!!! Then heat it slowly back to steaming goodness and serve. (I also have microwaved it, if I forgot to take it out of the fridge in time to heat it again over low heat, and it was fine.)
Accept shouts of praise and adulation. Smile modestly. Slurp up as much lobster stew as you can before anyone notices how much you're really getting....