This recipe and article comes to us from Barbara Gulino: media spokesperson, guest chef on Portland Maine’s WCSH6 and food blogger. Barbara blogs at The Spirited Cook and will be sharing her inside scoop on recipes for TABLE that are perfect for summer living in Maine.
When I first moved to Maine many years ago, Brooklyn girl that I was, I thought a lobster roll was a Chinese egg roll made with lobster instead of shrimp.
Clearly, I have come a long way in 29 years.
A true Maine lobster roll is a celebration of summer, and not meant to compete with too many other ingredients. This is where many a cook has strayed—adding an assortment of things, in various shades of green and otherwise – aromatic herbs, shredded lettuce, olives, capers, and even more horrifyingly, stuff like chipotles and mango, all in the vein of making it better, missing the point that a lobster roll is all about the lobster and nothing else.
Perhaps a small amount of finely chopped celery is okay. This addition is hotly debated amongst lobster roll purists.
A few chives on top can add contrast (if you need to get all fancy-like), but steer clear of the shredded lettuce route. It is disappointing to find lettuce lurking under the lobster in the roll. It is used to make the roll look fuller than it actually is. A little bit of mayonnaise is required to bind the lobster together. My favorite is Stonewall Kitchen’s Farmhouse Mayo – flavorful and seasoned with enough salt that I find I don’t need to add more.
Lastly, the griddled New England-style hot dog roll is part of the charm. They were honestly an ingredient I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to until I discovered the sturdier, larger and made-from-scratch-version baked by Mainly Grains in South Portland.
My lobster roll game is on! What I really want is a roll that can hold MORE lobster not less.
These rolls only need to be gently sliced apart which reveals their beautiful sides perfect for buttering and griddling resulting in a perfectly crispy-sided warm roll, and piled with lobster.
The best and most efficient time to make lobster rolls is the day after a traditional lobster bake or boiled lobster. Toss a few extra lobsters in to steam, refrigerate overnight, remove the meat and try to keep a few pieces of claw meat intact for an eye-catching garnish, but if you can’t, no big deal. Slice the tail meat in half length-wise and cut into chunks.
These fat and pudgy rolls allow for a generous ¼-pound portion each. Serve with sides of coleslaw and potato chips and hopefully a dose of sunshine.
This is, (I am quite certain) “The Way a Lobster Roll Should Be.”
Barbara Gulino blogs about food, travel and life in Maine and New Hampshire at SpiritedCook.com. All Text, Photos and Recipe By Barbara Gulino.
Classic Maine Lobster Rolls
The classic Maine lobster roll is easy to replicate at home once you know how. How many rolls you can make from this recipe will depend on the size of the roll -- but plan on 3 to 4.
- 1lbs (or slightly more) cooked lobster meat, keeping 4 of the claw meat intact for garnish
- 1/4cup finely minced celery
- 1/4cup best-quality mayonnaise(I prefer Stonewall Kitchen’s Farmhouse Mayo), plus additional to garnish (only if you didn’t get the claw meat out in one piece!)
- 1/2tsp fresh lemon juice(I literally just squeeze a few drops on the lobster)
- Sea salt, only if necessary and finely ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 best quality New England-style hot dog rolls (see note below)
- 5tbs very soft salted butter
- Optional, but good: Paprika, to garnish
- Optional, but good: A few finely minced chives
Recipe courtesy of Barbara Gulino for the Table Culinary Programs at the Kennebunkport Resort Collection.