Sunday, August 30, 2015

Taking Summer Out In Style...With Seafood!

Just doesn't get any better!
Even though the calendar claims that there are still three weeks left of summer, we all know that once the school bells start to ring...it's over. So, with that in mind, on this last "unofficial" week of lazy, hazy days, let's go BIG! Ending with a Labor Day Spectacular using the treasures of the ocean and bays of our coastal waterways.

I'm spending a long Labor Day weekend with my family at the Jersey shore. I also have several friends doing the same within blocks of us! A conversation at a recent "Wine & Art" party (more about that another time) came the realization that, at some point, we are all planning a night of seafood! One night celebrating the best that summer has to offer..fresh lobster, clams, crabs and mussels!

When I was looking at the amenities of our rental, I noticed that among the listing was a "lobster pot", and that set my mind racing. Now, our plan is to use sweet Jersey blue claws in place of its larger counterpart, but the remainder of the recipe will be used from a version I found while visiting Maine a few years back. And trust me when I say, there in no better place than Maine for lobster recipes!

Summer Seafood Feast!

Herb Butter
2 sticks (1/2 lb of butter)
1-1/2 cups of freshly chopped herbs. (Use your favorites, but I'm going with parsley and chives)
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Seafood Boil
The original recipe calls for:
(I offer this for those wanting a true New England flavor)
1/3 cup of sea salt
3 tbls coriander seeds
2 tbls fennel seeds
1 tbls black peppercorn
4 bay leaves
2 tsps of red pepper flakes

Our family recipe for a good seafood boil: 
(I offer this for those who want both flavor and ease!)
3/4 cup of Old Bay
1 can of beer
2 tbls of red pepper flakes

Now, toss your preferred seasoning boil into a large pot (about 6 qts) of salted boiling water.
Then add:
6 sprigs of thyme
3 chopped tomatoes
2 onions, cut in half
4 stalks of celery cut into large sections
2 lemons, halved
4 heads of unpeeled garlic
2 cups of white wine. (I always feel bad putting living creatures into boiling water...but drowning in wine and beer can't be the worst way to go!)
Let this simmer about 15 minutes to allow the flavors to blend, then take a slotted spoon to remove some of the larger ingredients, lemons, onions, celery.

Then add:
3 lbs of small, red-skin or Yukon Gold potatoes
6 ears of corn, husked and halved
1 lb of smoked sausage (kielbasa works great)
(Put the potatoes in first and allow them to cook for about 15 minutes. Next add the corn and smoked sausage for another 5 minutes. Remove the items from the broth, place in a large bowl and cover with foil)

Then add:
3 live lobsters (or, as we are doing, a dozen or so Jersey blue claw crabs)
2 lbs of mussels scrubbed
2 lbs of little neck clams,
1 lb of scallops or shrimp (your preference)

First cook the lobsters or crabs for about 5 minutes before adding the remaining treasures-which just need a few minutes in the flavor-filled broth. It is truly the broth that makes this seafood feast memorable!

Again, using a slotted spoon, remove all of the seafood and place over the potatoes and corn. Then "wet" the mixture with the broth, but remember-it is not a soup! The final step is to pour the melted herb butter over the steaming bowl. There are few words to describe the flavor that will follow!

I will admit, this is not a cheap meal. In fact, it can be expensive unless everyone eating is chipping in as well! BUT, this is simply the best way to end the summer. Family and friends, sitting around a table in the back yard on a warm summer evening, eating seafood and drinking a few cold brews!

Yeah...let's take this summer out in style!


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