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    The Lobster Roll

    We're back! The price of New England lobster is currently the lowest it’s been in 30 years. To celebrate that fact while we rue the end of summer, we are making possibly the greatest sandwich ever: the lobster roll. I had my old dear friend (of 25 years) Patrick Keane and his wife Anne over so he could show me how to make his amazingly perfect lobster rolls. I made French fries to go with it.

    Me & Patrick

    Love,
    gp

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    A Step-by-Step Guide

    Tips: Pat says you need to approach a lobster roll the way you approach a hamburger. Although lobster is pricey, you shouldn't fancy it up. You must use Pepperidge Farm hot dog buns and Hellmann’s mayo and not “wreck it with anything ancillary like dill”. Here’s how he made lobster rolls for four people (six rolls, we each had one and a half) along with my new fry method. For measurements and specifics, see the full recipes at the end of this section.

    Bugs, aka Homarus americanus.

    Bay leaves and lots of black peppercorns flavor the water the lobsters will steam in.

    Once the lobsters are steamed, it’s time to get cracking. Here’s Patrick, preparing for the hard work ahead with Olly’s Insane Dirty Vodka Martini (see recipe below).

    Getting the lobsters out of their shells (scissors help). Pat says the knuckle meat is the hardest to get out but worth it once all the meat is removed, as it’s the best.

    The meat is then torn into bite-size pieces for the rolls.

    Patrick slices the celery lengthwise into the thinnest ever pieces.

    Butter is melted and added to the meat...

    ...along with the celery, mayo (Patrick uses Hellman’s only!), lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Combine.

    Now, the rolls. Patrick chooses Pepperidge Farm hot dog buns for that soft, buttery goodness a perfect lobster roll needs.

    After heating the buns in the oven to dry them out a bit, baste with some of the leftover melted better and toast them in a dry sauté pan.

    Perfection.

    GP's New French Fry Method

    Peel then slice. I like to cut my potatoes thick.

    It takes a little effort to soak the potatoes and change the water once it gets cloudy, but soaking is essential to crispy fries that aren’t too starchy. I usually soak them for a good hour, changing the water three times.

    The potatoes are steamed then dried really well (no moisture should remain) then fried then drained then cooled then finally fried again until crispy.

    I like to serve them in an oversized coffee mug lined with parchment and salt them well.

    A perfect summer meal. Serve with...

    Olly’s Insane Dirty Vodka Martini

    Our friend Oliver was around to whip up some insanely good martinis while we cooked. He lends us his recipe below.

    ingredients
    makes 1

    • 2 ½ shots of ice-cold Grey Goose vodka (I always use the ratio of 5:1 of vodka:vermouth when making any martini gin or vodka)
    • ½ shot dry vermouth (to taste, i.e. dry or wet)
    • 4 teaspoons of olive brine (though I always ask how dirty they like it ;-)
    • 3 large green olives

    equipment

    • martini glass, preferably straight from the freezer. If not, fill the glass with ice and then with water wait 2-3 minutes until cold
    • atomizer for the vermouth - I coat the inside of the glass before I pour the martini in, as I think it makes the taste a little smoother. This step is not completely necessary in a dirty martini but in a normal one, I highly recommend you do this.
    • cocktail shaker
    • Hawthorne strainer
    • fine strainer

    preparation

    1. Fill the shaker with ice nearly to the top.

    2. Add all the ingredients. I prefer to stir my martinis for about 20-30 seconds but you can shake it (max 10 seconds), which is thought to blend the vodka and vermouth better but traditionally the shaking makes it a Bradford. Also, shaking adds air bubbles, hence the cloudy appearance, and dilutes the mix which freshens the taste.

    3. Using the atomizer, coat the inside of the martini glass with vermouth.

    4. Through the Hawthorne and fine strainer, pour the dirty Vodka martini into a frozen martini glass.

    5. Add olives and serve immediately.

    The Perfect Lobster Roll

    ingredients
    makes 6

    • four 1.5 lb lobsters
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 30 black peppercorns
    • zest of 1 lemon
    • juice of 1 lemon
    • 2 tbsp melted butter
    • 2 tbsp Hellman’s mayo
    • celery, chopped as thin as possible lengthwise
    • salt & pepper to taste
    • 5 chives (about a teaspoon), finely chopped
    • 6 Pepperidge Farm hot dog buns

    preparation

    1.Add 2 bay leaves and 30 black peppercorns to shallow water (about 2-3 inches deep) in a large pot. Add lobsters, cover and steam for 12-15 minutes, until bright orange/red.

    2.Let cool to the touch, then bash ‘em open with the back of a sturdy knife. Remove all the meat.

    3.Cut lobster into bite-size pieces and put in a mixing bowl. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, melted butter, mayo, celery, salt and pepper to taste. Combine.

    4.Heat buns in the oven on 225° for 10 or so minutes to dry them out. Brush split buns with the remainder of the melted butter and toast them in a dry sauté pan, turning frequently until toasted.

    5.Fill buns with meat and sprinkle with more chives and a squeeze of lemon if you fancy. Serve with fries.

    GP's Fries

    ingredients
    makes 4

    • 4 large potatoes (russets or another floury potato work well, just nothing waxy)
    • 8-10 cups vegetable oil
    • salt

    preparation

    1.Peel then slice to your liking.

    2.Soak potatoes for up to an hour changing the water about three times throughout when it gets cloudy.

    3.Steam for 8 minutes in a steamer (a bamboo basket would work as well). Dry super well until potatoes are completely dry.

    4.Then, fry in small batches in peanut oil at 160 degrees for four or so minutes. Take them out of the oil and let them cool. Drain on a grate on top of a bake sheet (I use one from Williams-Sonoma).

    5.When they are all done and cool, turn up the oil to 190 degrees and fry again ‘til crispy.

    6.Serve in an oversized coffee mug lined with parchment. Salt well.

    For when you can’t cook…

    ...here’s a list of our favorite places for lobster rolls in Maine (where it all began), Boston, New York and LA.

    Maine

    Photo top: Lisa Corson/The Wall Street Journal

    Five Islands Lobster Co.
    1447 Five Islands Rd., Georgetown
    207.371.2990

    As fresh as it gets, Five Islands picks their lobster meat daily from local waters, adds a kiss of mayo and serves it on a buttered, grilled bun lined with Romaine. Eat on one of the green picnic tables overlooking the water for full effect.

    Photo top: roadfood.com

    Red’s Eats
    41 Water St., Wiscasset
    207.882.6128

    Get in line (and be prepared to wait) for the very worth it rolls at this roadside shack. Each one boasts a whole lobster’s worth of meat that's so fresh and sweet they leave it unadorned (though you may add mayo and or butter to your liking).

    Photo bottom: Robert Dennis

    The Clam Shack
    2 Western Ave., Kennebunk
    207.967.2560

    What sets this roll apart at this little stand on the bridge connecting Kennebunk and Kennebunkport, are the signature round, airy buns they’ve been using since the ’70’s and the lobsters themselves, cooked in fresh ocean water for optimal taste.

    Boston

    Photo bottom: bridgeandtunnelclub.com

    James Hook & Co.
    15-17 Northern Ave.
    617.423.5501

    James Hook on the Boston waterfront serves one of the best, no-nonsense lobster rolls in town, with claw and knuckle meat on a cold split-top bun. Picnic tables and tanks complete the super casual vibe that keeps the lobster fresh and prices low.

    Photo top: Penny Cherubino

    Neptune Oyster
    63 Salem St.
    617.742.3474

    Hot with butter or cold with mayo on a brioche bun, Neptune is the place in Boston for the upscale lobster roll.

    Yankee Lobster Co.
    300 Northern Ave.
    617.345.9799

    Having been around for over 50 years, this shack in the fish market knows how to make a lobster roll: traditional with thick chunks of meat and just a smear of mayo on a lightly toasted split-top bun. No muss…

    New York

    Photo, top: Paul Wagtouicz

    Pearl Oyster Bar
    18 Cornelia St.
    212.691.8211

    The lobster roll that was ahead of the trend in New York many years ago is still one of our favorites, made with a generous amount of fresh lobster salad (Hellmann’s mayo, lemon and chives) on a crunchy griddled bun.

    Photo, top: loco2.com

    Grand Central Oyster Bar
    89 East 42nd St.
    212.490.6650

    On the lower level of Grand Central station is this very cool, old-New York restaurant (almost 100-years-running) complete with vaulted ceilings, myriad oyster varieties and a great lobster roll. Grab one at the counter before hopping on your train or head to the cavernous saloon and stay a while.

    Red Hook Lobster Pound
    284 Van Brunt St., Brooklyn
    718.858.7650

    Specializing in fresh-catch lobster, these guys offer an awesome, no-frills roll in two styles: Maine (cold with mayo) or Connecticut (warm with butter). If you can’t get to Red Hook, they now have trucks that travel about the city.

    Ed’s Lobster Bar
    222 Lafayette St.
    212.343.3236

    This casual New England style lobster bar serves the dressiest of rolls, which is notoriously similar to Pearl’s – big chunks of lobster, lightly seasoned and tossed with the perfect amount of mayo on a soft, buttery brioche bun.

    Mary’s Fish Camp
    64 Charles St.
    646.486.2185

    The simple recipe (much like Patrick’s perfect roll) includes fresh hunks of lobster, Hellmann’s mayo, super-fine celery and a whisper of scallion on a Pepperidge Farm bun. Delish.

    Luke’s Lobster
    93 E. 7th St.
    212.387.8487

    Large chunks of claw and knuckle meat are mixed with just a touch of mayo at Luke’s, which now has outposts all around town. The casual environs, counter seating and wholesale connections (Luke’s dad is in the Maine lobster biz) keeps prices around $10 cheaper than the restaurant competition. They also offer half rolls, if you're just up for a snack.

    Los Angeles

    Photo, top: Scout Magazine

    Son of a Gun
    8370 West 3rd St.
    323.782.9033

    The menu changes daily here, but one thing that always remains is their amazing (mini) lobster roll, made with celery and lemon aioli, and topped with crispy chips and chives on a buttery brioche bun. Hands down one of the best rolls we've ever eaten.

    Lobsta Truck
    Location Varies

    Inspired by a trip to New England, these guys brought the East Coast back to LA…in a truck. The rolls are simple and delicious and served with all the regional trimmings (Cape Cod chips, clam chowder, etc.)

    Photo, top: gastronomyblog.com

    Water Grill
    544 South Grand Ave.

    Downtown’s bustling seafood bistro serves a true Connecticut-style lobster roll, warm and oozing with butter (no mayo) on a warm split brioche bun, served with crispy fries and pickles. Enjoy at the beautiful marble bar, overlooking the open kitchen or next to the impressive raw bar.

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