Being on away rotations, I haven’t been up to my usual menu planning and weeknight meal routine. Between applications, scheduling interviews, and overall crazy hours, I haven’t missed it too much, but I’m not sure I can say the same for John (who has been eating chez chef Boyardee). But to make up for it, I was able to rationalize this fancy weekend meal. (It also didn’t hurt that Mom was buying :-)). After apple picking, running and hiking in the park, this chowder was the perfect end to a fall themed day. It is really one for the record books. It will make you feel like you on dining on the set of barefoot contessa and it would be the perfect fall meal for company, or if you just feel like indulging yourself.
This was my first time ever cooking with lobster, and I don’t pretend to know much about it. I did learn that it is very easy to overcook it, and for such an expensive meat, that is really something you don’t want to do. So err on the side of undercooked, because it will inevitably cook a bit more once you add it to the stew. Also, while this soup still tasted wonderful the next day, I did notice that there was a bit of color separation, which didn’t make for the most gorgeous photograph. If you want to see what it looked like the first night, check out this blog. Despite the work, and the amount of cream (once in a while..) this is definitely something I will be making again. In fact, it almost makes me wish I actually lived in New England, which is saying a lot for a girl who hates the cold :-).
Lobster Corn Chowder
- 3 (1 1/2lb) cooked lobsters
- 3 ears of corn
For the stock:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1/4 cup sherry
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 4 cups milk (skim works fine)
- 2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
- 1 cup dry white wine
For the soup:
- 1 tablespoon good olive oil
- 1/4 pound bacon, large-diced
- 2 cups large-diced unpeeled Yukon gold potatoes (2 medium)
- 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
- 2 cups diced celery (3 to 4 stalks)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
- 1/4 cup sherry
- Remove the meat from the shells of the lobsters. Cut the meat into large cubes and place them in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Reserve the shells and all the juices that collect. Cut the corn kernels from the cobs and set aside, reserving the cobs separately.
- For the stock, melt the butter in a stockpot or Dutch oven large enough to hold all the lobster shells and corncobs. Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat for 7 minutes, until translucent but not browned, stirring occasionally. Add the sherry and paprika and cook for 1 minute. Add the milk, cream, wine, lobster shells and their juices, and corn cobs and bring to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and simmer the stock over the lowest heat for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in another stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil and cook the bacon for 4 to 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until browned and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add the potatoes, onions, celery, corn kernels, salt, and pepper to the same pot and saute for 5 minutes. When the stock is ready, remove the largest pieces of lobster shell and the corn cobs with tongs and discard. Place a strainer over the soup pot and carefully pour the stock into the pot with the potatoes and corn. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Add the cooked lobster, the chives and the sherry and season to taste. Heat gently and serve hot with a garnish of crisp bacon
Ah. Real Food. This is what January was meant to be. Not including the peanut M&Ms (which I mistakenly bought a XXL bag of because I was hungry at Costco….never a good thing) the food around here has most definitely taken a turn for the more wholesome. I can’t really promise that this will last long, but while I’m craving healthy food, I might as well take advantage. There is nothing quite like a warm, hearty, filling and yet healthy stew to warm up with on chilly January evening. Or considering the 40-50 degree days we have been having I should probably say, “On a abnormally warm, almost balmy January evening in Ohio”, but it just doesn’t have the same ring. Global warming is seriously ruining seasonal eating.
No matter what the weather, I could probably eat this stew. Well I might be lying slightly. I wouldn’t eat it in the summer. That would be like some kind of sin- hot stew in the summer? But anytime September through April would be fine if you are lucky enough to live in a place like tropical Toledo. (Can you sense my bitterness at winter – and this is even after I got an automatic car starter for Christmas!). But in all seriousness, the first time I made this stew was back in Louisiana, where the humidity never drops below 100% – and it was still good. It’s the kind of stew that feels well balanced because you get vegetables, grain, and protein all in one place. I really love the addition of barley because it makes this stew seem extra hearty and yet also somewhat gourmet.
One caution is that the barley continues to absorb water after cooking. When you go to get leftovers the next day you may find that all the liquid is gone and the barley has doubled in size – but never fear – just add a bit more water, and reheat. If you are trying to make this in advance, or if you’d like to freeze it, I would probably make it without the barley, and then just add the barley when reheating it.
Beef and Barley Stew
- Cooking spray
- 2 pounds beef stew meat, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 2 ½ cups chopped leaks (about 3 leeks including green stems)
- 2 ½ cups sliced carrot
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 cups water
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 – 14 oz cans beef broth
- 1 cup uncooked medium pearled barley
1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add half of beef; cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining beef.
2. Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add leek, carrot, and garlic; sauté 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Return beef to pan. Add all ingredients EXCEPT barley and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour, or longer if desired. Add barley; cook 30 minutes or until beef and barley are tender. Discard bay leaves.
Adapted from Cooking Light