Hi everyone! Welcome back to Kelly’s Kitchen, I am happy you’re here this week. Today’s recipe comes from a request sent via email from Joanna in Ontario, Canada. In her email, Joanna requested a recipe with lobster, because her family will sadly miss their annual trip to the American Northeast this year. I love how food can transport us to a place; be it in our memories or a geographic location.
Maine is known for many things; donut holes were invented there. Maine is the largest producer of blueberries in the U.S. But perhaps most notably, 90% of this country’s lobster supply comes from Maine. So it goes without saying that when you take a trip to Maine, you’re gonna have some lobster.
How to make a Lobster Roll
I’ve never been to Maine. It’s one of the few states I haven’t been to. I’ve also never made lobster rolls. So, I was all too excited to accommodate Joanna’s request. So let’s get to it! Here’s how to make a lobster roll.
Instead of whole lobsters, I have 6 lobster tails. I don’t have an in-pot steamer basket, but my bamboo steamer will work just fine.
I lined my baskets with parchment paper and fit three tails per basket. Get your pot of water boiling and set your lidded basket tiers on top of your pot.
They cook fast, about 6 minutes. If you use a bamboo steamer like mine, the top tier may need another minute longer. So use oven mitts to take the whole basket off the pot and set it down on a cutting board or a towel-lined countertop. Then, take the top tier and lid, and place it back on the pot for one more minute. Tails are done when they are bright red.
Let the tails sit until they are cool enough to handle. Then, take a tail, and with the underside up, slice down the length of the tail with a large, sharp knife. Starting at the top, wiggle your fingers between the meat and the shell to dislodge the meat. Do this down the length of the tail until the meat is free. then slice the tail into large-ish chunks.
This recipe is from Bon Appetite and they call it the Best-of-Both-Worlds Lobster Roll. Why? Well, it turns out that there is quite a debate between Maine and Connecticut about the best lobster roll. Maine has its own style, which is served cold and involves a mayonnaise based sauce that coats the lobster – more like lobster salad. And Connecticut has its own style, in which the warm lobster is tossed in melted lemon butter. No mayo in the Connecticut version.
BA’s recipe perfectly blends the two styles for a whole new sandwich. Serve it warm or cold. It’s delicious both ways.
Dice your celery and thinly slice the chives. Mix the mayo with the lemon juice and zest, add the celery and one tablespoon of the chives. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set the dressing aside.
The recipe calls for six tablespoons unsalted butter; four for the lobster and two for toasting the buns. I wanted to do something a little different, so I swapped one tablespoon of unsalted for one tablespoon of a garlic basil compound butter. If you want to do this too, you can easily make your own by mixing softened butter with herbs, garlic and salt. I like to keep some kind of compound butter on hand, it’s a nice thing to use on corn on the cob or to top a steak.
Put the butter in a saucepan and gently melt it on the stove over low heat. Transfer two tablespoons of the butter for brushing the buns. Then, toss your lobster in the butter remaining in the pot. Over very low heat, slightly warm the lobster through and stir to coat in the butter. Remove it from the heat
I could not find the traditional New England style buns so I got brioche hot dog buns and very thinly sliced off the top and bottom of each bun. Brush your reserved melted butter on the cut tops and bottoms of your buns and toast in a hot, dry skillet.
Gently stir your lobster into the dressing and you’re all set!
Another lobster roll controversy: lettuce. I like the addition of the lettuce leaf to keep the bun from getting too soggy. Especially since I have brioche buns, which are so soft to begin with. BA recommends this in their recipe and I think it’s a sound idea. But you can go without the lettuce leaf, if you prefer.
To assemble, lay your lettuce leaf on your bun, pile on the lobster and sprinkle on the remaining chives.
This recipe was a lot of fun to make. We don’t often have lobster so it was quite a treat. If lobster is too pricey for you, this may be the most controversial thing to say…but, try it with shrimp. I know, I know it’s a completely different animal. BUT! Texturally, they’re similar and I think shrimp would be a delicious way to go.
I want to thank Joanna in Ontario for requesting a lobster recipe. And Joanna, I do hope this lobster roll helps you relive your vacation memories until you can safely get back to Maine.
Thanks everyone for spending some of your Saturday with me and don’t forget you can find me on Instagram and Facebook too! I love the idea of cooking together so please do let me know if you have any requests for upcoming recipes. Take care, be well, xo Kelly
Best-of-Both-Worlds Lobster Rolls
- 3 1.75 lb Live Lobsters or 6 Lobster Tails
- 1/4 cup Mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup Diced Celery
- 1/2 tsp Lemon Zest
- 1/2 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 tbsp Chives, plus more for serving
- Kosher Salt, Fresh Ground Black Pepper
- 5 tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 4 New England Style Split Top buns or hot dog buns with the top and bottom sliced off
- 2 Green or Red Lettuce Leafs
Fit a large pot with a steamer basket and pour in water to come to top of basket. Place over high heat. If desired, dispatch lobsters by using a sharp chef’s knife (and one fell swoop) to split the front section of each between the eyes. Place lobsters in pot, cover, and steam (the pot should be actively filled with steam) until shells are bright red and tails are curled, 6–8 minutes. Let sit until cool enough to handle, 12–15 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix mayonnaise, celery, lemon zest, lemon juice, and 1 Tbsp. chives in a medium bowl to combine; season dressing with salt and pepper.
Remove lobster meat from shells and cut into large pieces; discard shells. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; transfer 2 Tbsp. melted butter to a small bowl and set aside for brushing buns. Add lobster meat to remaining butter in saucepan and toss to coat. Cook, tossing occasionally, until just warmed through (it should not be hot; you don’t want it to overcook), about 4 minutes. Season with salt, then spoon lobster meat into bowl with dressing with a slotted spoon and gently toss to coat.
Heat a dry large skillet over medium. Brush reserved butter over outsides of buns. Toast, buttered side down, until golden, about 3 minutes per side.
Line each bun with a piece of lettuce and spoon in dressed lobster; top with more chives.