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Author Notes: Have I mentioned recently that I live in Maine now? Well I do, and one of the many reasons I moved here is because it smells a lot like East Hampton, which is where I spend my early childhood years, as a townie no less. I was not a true Bonacker because I wasn't born there and I won't be a true Mainiac probably until never I can live here for the next 50 years and still be from away, as they say.
Besides the glorious smells of sea air + forest air and the sounds of seagulls, there are a few other things these two locations share namely; Lobster, Clams, Potatoes & Corn...all grown gathered and raised within a stones throw. Maine potatoes taste like Hampton's potatoes, maybe it's the sandy soil.
I live close to a beach, but not on the beach, and certainly close enough to grab a few hanks of seaweed to make this 1 pot (sort of) "Suppah" as they say here in New England. I City-fied it with garlicky, fennely butter, and there's mussels and local kielbasa in there too because why not have everything good all at the same time.
If you come to visit me in the summer this is what we'll do.
Saturday morning we'll stop at the farmers for local cultured butter, mussels, corn, potatoes, garlic plus some bread for sopping and tomatoes , maybe even some oysters, you know , for starters.
From there we'll go to Bisson's meat market for their smoked Kielbasa and what ever else looks good , it smells like smoked meats and the herd of cows staring accusingly at us. After that we can get on with the rest of the day, sunning, napping, hiking whatevs, it's summer!
At around 3- 3:30 we'll go to Glen's Lobster at Miracle Cove on Bailey Island a get some lobsters-still in the traps still in the water, while we're there we'll grab the seaweed.
Home in time for Happy Hour... we can divide up the tasks, shucking corn, shucking oysters, rubbing grilled bread with ripe tomatoes....
Dinner's when we want it maybe late after the sun's gone down, maybe early in the twilight and afterwards there might be pie and much later we'll sit around the fire pit and drink bourbon and burn marshmallows for fancy s'mores on ginger cookies with dark bitter chocolate.
Serves 4 hungry people
City-fied Dipping Butter
- 1 head of terrific garlic
- 1 pound the best butter (salted)
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes
- 1 zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup chopped parsely
- 1 teaspoon fennel pollen (alternatively you can use freshly ground fennel seeds)
- Peel & chop the garlic (this a a great thing for guests who want to help out)
- Place butter, lemon zest, Aleppo pepper, fennel pollen and garlic in a saucepan over very very very low heat...and let it melt slowly and infuse itself.
- When you are ready to serve stir in the parsley and give each guest a shallow bowl full of butter for dipping.
- If you want to do this ahead- make a compound butter with everything but the parsley and heat it when it's time.
- 4 1 1/2 # lobsters
- 16-20 steamer clams or cherrystones, whichever you like the best
- 1 pound mussels
- 1 pound fresh dug fingerling or Russian banana potatoes
- 4 ears shucked corn
- 1 ring smoked kielbasa cut in 4 peices
- 3 hunks of seaweed from the ocean (or the bay), I don't know what its called, but I put a picture up there- If you are squeamish, or trying this in the city you can use Kombu, about 2 sheets ( if that's the terminology)
- 2 cups dry white vermouth
- 2 tablespoons sea salt from the closest ocean. IF you are in fact right next to the ocean omit the salt & just use actual Ocean Water
- 2 lemons, quartered
- 1 head garlic split in half width-wise (around the equator)
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns (toasted is nice)
- 1 head fennel, quartered, save the fronds for another time, or you can garnish with the,m or put them in a vase with some beach roses
- Wash the seaweed under cold water- get rid of all the sand and any errant sea creatures, unless you are feeling adventurous and want to eat them.
- De-beard the mussels if necessary, scrub them and the clams with a clean towel under cold water, discard any broken shells- if you see an open one flick it with your finger, if it's alive it'll close up, if not toss it. -IF you are using steamers give them a long soak (1 hour) and a vigorous scrub- those beyotches hold tons of mud.
- Get the biggest pot you can find that has a lid (if there's no lid big enough just use a sheet pan)
- Layer seaweed on the bottom, then add your aromatics (fennel, garlic, thyme, peppercorns)
- Place potatoes on top of that, add enough just water to cover + salt
- Bring to a simmer over medium heat- Add the vermouth then add the Lobsters (say goodbye and don't forget to thank them before you plunge them into the water of death)
- After about 5 minutes add the clams, mussels, corn & kielbasa- COVER TIGHTLY as possible, you may need to weigh it down with a brick or a cast iron pan ,if you are in fact using a sheet pan.
- You want try to keep this steaming but without boiling over in anyway-- (it'a tricky in a rental kitchen - but 1 person should be the pot watcher) It should cook for another 10-12 minutes - maybe more depending on the air flow in your pot.. Give a good shake a few times. Check and see if the clams opened- when they are open, and reach in with some tongs and pull on one of the tiny lobster legs, it should pull free easily)
- Drain out the excess liquid- hold back about 2 cups- set that in a bowl/or pitcher at the table( I pour a little into my melted butter) -
- lay the seaweed in the bottom of a giant platter-- then arrange everything else on top, and toss the lemon quarters on top.
- To Serve-- cover your entire dining room table with newspapers- and set out at least two bowls for shells (one for lobster shells to save) - Other nice things to have are good bread, or fresh biscuits- you could make a salad but only if you do it afterwards like a little salad and a little cheese after all the shells and newspapers are put away. Save the greens for either before or after the inevitable carnage. Make sure you have lots of napkins maybe a roll of paper towels standing by this is not a dinner for nice linens or really even plates, actually you may want to change into an old T-shirt. You'll do well with lots cold beer and this is such a great sparkling wine meal. I feel like it also needs loud happy music, like some 50's surf rock or reggae. Los Straitjackets would be perfect, especially on vinyl.
- This is ALOT of food-- you could probably feed 6 or 8 if you went halfsies on the lobsters- But I say have everynone eat as much as they want then the next morning turn the left over potatoes, fennel & sausage into hash fro breakfast with some poached eggs , and toss the clams and mussels in an herby vinaigrette (maybe add a few slivers of raw scallop or shrimp- a few white beans, raw fennel) for a little afternoon snack along with corn pancakes topped with lobster salad with fresh tarragon & chives- save the butter to bolster the lobster stock you'll make after everyone goes home.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe for the Shore