I went to my first ever Lobster Bake this weekend. As a West Coaster I had two questions: "What do you mean I have to break down my own lobster?" and "Why do they call it a Lobster 'Bake'?"
So obviously the first question is ridiculous and came mostly out of fear of not knowing what I am doing. I don't like to look like an amateur when it comes to food related tasks. I am supposed to be the guru, the go to know-it-all, and the annoying friend who offers her kitchen advice when you don't ask for it. I am actually all about cracking into a crustacean. Crabs? Let me show you how to get every scrap of meat out of those things. Peel and eat shrimp? Bring me your biggest bucket! Crawfish? Oh, heck yes! Lobster? Those things are huge and intimidating, and I swear it is judging me with it's beady little eyes. Luckily our gracious hosts provided plates with instructions, and I am good at instructions (not to brag, but all of my Ikea furniture is done correctly). I successfully pulled claw meat and tail meat out whole. Humblebrag.
For the second question, I took to the interwebs to find the answer. Instead of just answering the initial question, how about some fun facts about lobsters? Yay! (scroll down now to skip this nonsense and get straight into the recipe)
- Lobster meat can provide 28 grams of protein per cup of meat. And, sans the dipping butter, only have 2.5 grams of fat!
- Soft shell lobsters have sweeter and more tender meat. Most soft-shell is caught from July to October.
- Lobsters will literally drown in fresh water.
- Each year, nearly $300 million of lobster is caught in the US.
- Lobster brains are no larger than the tip of a ball point pen.
- The lobster clambake is actually a tradition taught to the Pilgrims by Native Americans in the New England area. Traditionally, a hole is dug in the sand at the beach lined the pits with hot stones, then covered lobsters and clams with heaps of wet seaweed to steam cook their meal.
- Their shells used to be used to make golf balls.
- Lobster used to be considered a poor man's food because they were cheap and plentiful, and some thought bland. They used to be served in prisons in Massachusetts.
- Lobsters don't actually scream when you cook them. The noise is actually trapped air in their stomachs being released.
- It is called a "bake" because covering the lobsters with wet seaweed and heating from below actually utilizes the steam baking method (vs. dry baking... think using a water bath to create steam when baking a cheescake or souffle, vs. just the dry heat of the oven for breads and cakes) to cook the meat through.
So there you you have it! Some fun facts and my second question answered. Now a question that I should have shared in the first paragraph of this very informative story, "What does one serve with lobster?" Well, I will have a second recipe for you in the next post, but for today I am sharing the fruit crumble I decided would pair nicely with the lobster.
By using a crumble topping, you leave the last bites of your buttery and decadent lobster meal somewhat lighter than a traditional cobbler or pie. I decided what better way to celebrate a New England lobster bake tradition than to incorporate all the Fall fruits of the region. This crumble includes two kinds of apples, a couple of pears, and a hearty helping of whole cranberries. The topping is chock full of pecans and oats, and is actually gluten free... but definitely not sugar or fat free. I have to say the combo of the Fall fruits with a light(er) crust made for a great end to a great meal! Thanks to my pal and her parents for hosting us for such a wonderful Sunday afternoon. xoxo
The Recipe: New England Fruit Crumble
~yields 1 -13x9inch pan of crumble (10-12 servings)
The Bits and Bobs:
for the crumble
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
12 tbsp butter, melted (if using salted, omit the salt)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup pecans, chopped
for the fruit filling
2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cubed
2 fuji or pink lady apples, cored and cubed
3 d'anjou or bosch pears, stemmed, seeded and cubed
1 -16 oz bag frozen cranberries, mostly thawed (they can still have a chill to them)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350*F. Lightly grease a 13x9inch baking dish.
Chop up the fruit as directed above and place in a big bowl. Add brown sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice to the fruit and toss until well coated. Spread into the baking dish.
In a separate bowl, combine the melted butter, pecans, oats and sugar stirring with a fork until all the oats are coated. Spread evenly over the fruit mixture.
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown. Allow to cool slightly. Serve warm or room temp with ice cream, whipped cream or plain!