Summer Lobster Boil

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Boils are also known as a Steam, Bake, Fish Fry, Potluck, Planks or Seafood Barbecue. Here are a few kinds of boils I’ve either been privileged to have attended in my travels or have had the pleasure of creating myself.

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George Hirsch's Lobster Boil

  • New England - lobster steamed with beer, corn, sausage and new potatoes
  • Montauk - mussels, clams, lobster, striped bass, duck quarters, LI Yukons, corn
  • Maryland or Chesapeake - blue crab, oysters and clams with steamed with beer, vinegar, and Old Bay cooked in a steamer basket served with crackers corn and slaw
  • Cajun & Creole Boil - shrimp, crab, crawfish, andouille sausage or kielbasa, small red new potatoes
  • Low Country or Frogmore Stew - usually just shrimp with smoked sausage & corn
  • Texan - crawfish, oysters and good old Texan smoked brisket
  • Monterey - Dungeness crabs, shrimp and artichokes when in season
  •  Seattle - planked salmon & oysters 

Types of seafood commonly used for a boil is typically shellfish with shrimp being the most popular ingredient. Local availability, taste preferences and imagination can rule your boil. You may consider: Dungeness & blue claw crabs, shrimp, oysters, calamari, hard shell & razor clams, mussels, crawfish, Pacific salmon or striped bass for your boil. Equipment: large outdoor gas grill, cooker, or large pit with charcoal, a large pot (size depends on amount of seafood and the number of guests). 20 gallon stock pot,  large paddle to stir, large wire strainer or skimmer to scoop, tongs, mallets, crackers, picks, picnic tables, No utensils––eat with your hands. 

Summer Boil

Flavoring ingredients: onions, split heads of garlic, salt, lemons, beer, bay leaves, crab boil seasoning, cayenne pepper, hot sauce 

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George Hirsch's Lobster Boil

Serve: Remove seafood from pot, drain well and dump on picnic tables covered with newspaper, brown paper or butcher paper with bowls of lemon wedges, melted butter, bottles of hot sauce, and good quality breads. Beverages: Iced tubs of tall necks or keg beer (keep it local to your boil theme), tall necks of root beer, chilled rosé, iced tea, or lemonade. 

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George Hirsch's Lobster Boil

Preparing George’s East Coast Seafood Boil Recipe

My boil is a combination of the New England, Maryland & Montauk and is easily prepared on the side burner of a gas grill. Change seafood according to your own taste and availability. Add snow peas for additional color and crunch.

Non-seafood additions to boil with cook times:

  • 1 link per person smoked or Italian sausage, grilled & add to boil at end
  • 3 small red new potatoes per person, 15 minutes
  • 1 ear of corn per person, 10 minutes
  • 1/4 cup snow peas, 2-3 minutes
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter per person, for dipping
  • Serve hot sauce on the side 

To prepare Seafood Boil:

Add 2 cups water, 2 bottles of beer, 1 head fresh chopped garlic, 4 bay leaves, several sprigs fresh parsley, 1 Tablespoon black peppercorns, 1 Tablespoon powdered garlic, 1 Tablespoon thyme, and 1/4 cup paprika. If you like it spicy add dried hot pepper flakes, or chopped jalapeño. Bring liquid to boil.

Add seafood in stages for different cooking times:

  • Lobster 7 minutes for a 1 pound lobster + 1 minute for each additional 4 ounces
  • Blue Claw Crabs 5-7 minutes
  • Steamers or Littlenecks- 5-7 minutes or until opened
  • Shrimp (shell on) 4-5 minutes
  • Mussels 3-4 minutes or until opened

Separately, to boil lobsters:

  • Fill a large pot three-quarters full of cold water and cover.
  • A good rule of thumb is to allow 2 1/2 quarts of water for each lobster. Two or more lobsters will cook in the same time providing the pot is large enough. When in doubt use two pots.
  • Bring the water to a rapid boil.
  • Lobsters should be alive with the safety bands left on the claws. Drop the live lobsters one at a time head first, let the water boil again and cover the pot. Now you will begin to time the cooking.
  • Allow 7 minutes for a one-pound lobster and add one minute for each 4 ounces. A 1 1/2 pound lobster will cook in 9 minutes.
  • Lobsters will turn a bright red when cooked. Remove lobsters from pot with a pair of tongs.
  • Allow at least 2- 1 pound lobsters per person since a 1 pound lobster offers only 4 ounces of meat.
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George Hirsch's Lobster Boil

To Grill Lobsters:

  • Lobsters, split and cleaned
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons seafood seasoning
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 pound clarified or drawn butter
  • 3 lemons, cut into wedges

Preheat grill to medium high

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil seafood seasoning and garlic. Place the lobster on its back and brush with some of the oil mixture.  Place the lobster on the grill, split side down, for 3 minutes. Brush with olive oil, turn, and cook until done, 5 to 6 minutes longer. A 1 1/2-pound lobster should cook in 9 minutes: 7 minutes for the first pound and 1 minute for each additional 4 ounces.

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Summer Corn Chowder

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It's time for a summer soup. Make magic with the goodness from the earth, simply with corn and potatoes.

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One my most often requested soup recipes especially during summer when the farms are so abundant with fresh candy-like corn, and our famous Long Island East End Yukon Potatoes. 

It is known that eastern Long Island has some of the best soil for farming in the world. Off the record I have had some farmers tell me - that farmers in other regions are envious over the rich well drained earth here on the East End. 

Summer Corn Chowder

Makes four-six servings

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1 Tablespoon olive oil 

4 Tablespoons pancetta or bacon, chopped

3/4 cup chopped sweet onion, chopped 

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped 

1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1/2 inch pieces 

1/2 cup chopped carrot, chopped 

1/2 cup chopped celery, chopped 

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour 

4 cups chicken broth 

2 cups corn, (about 4 ears) fresh cut from cob; or leftover grilled corn

1 cup Yukon potatoes, well scrubbed skin left on, chopped 1/4 inch pieces

1 bay leaf 

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped 

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce 

pinch of sea salt

fresh ground black pepper

1/2 cup half-half 

1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Pre heat a soup pot to medium temperature. Add olive oil and pancetta, cook until light brown. Add onion, garlic and chicken and cook until lightly colored. 

Add carrot, celery and cook three to four minutes. Add flour, cook for two minutes and slowly add chicken broth. Bring soup to a boil, add corn, potatoes, thyme, hot sauce and bay leaf. Simmer soup for 45 minutes to 1 hour. 

Pre heat half-half, add sea salt, pepper to soup and top with fresh chopped parsley.

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Know Your Fire Fridays: Ancient Grilling

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One of the oldest cooking techniques in existence, the art of grilling meat on a skewer was derived from medieval Turkish soldiers who used their swords to cook meat over open fires. An Adana kebabi from the south of Turkey is a savory mixture of minced lamb, cumin, cayenne, black pepper, dried oregano and mint. The meat is shaped into a long cylindrical shape like a long hot dog or sausage, then pierced onto a long metal skewer and grilled in one piece. It is served removed from the skewer and cut up.

Adana is named after the 5th largest city in Turkey, Adana. There are very strict guidelines and inspections that must be passed by The Adana Chamber of Commerce in order to be an authentic Adana kebabi vendor.

Adana kebabi has to be made from the meat of a male lamb. The skewered meat, must be roasted on fireless, charcoal embers exclusively from oak wood. The skewers are frequently turned during grilling using caution so the melting fat is not dripped on the embers causing a flair up. The Adana is served on flat bread by pressing the meat off the skewers after cooking; when wrapped and served in a flat bread, it's called a Dürüm. Authentic accompaniments served with adana include; charred tomatoes, green or red peppers, onions and parsley seasoned with sumac or lemon pepper seasoning, and warm hummus.

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Adana or Kiyma Kebabi

Makes 4 servings

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1 pound ground lamb or ground beef 

1/4 teaspoon ground red (cayenne) pepper

1/2 teaspoon each; ground cumin, dried oregano

1 Tablespoon each: fresh parsley and fresh mint

1 egg white

Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Pinch Sea salt

Olive oil

2 fresh lemons, quartered

Fresh Mint 

1 cup plain Greek yogurt, optional. Or, serve with Tzatziki Sauce

Mix the meat with the cayenne, cumin, oregano, parsley, mint, black pepper, and salt in a bowl. Add the egg white and continue to combine until the mixture is well blended.

Grease skewers with cooking spray or oil. If possible, use long, flat metal skewers. Divide the meat mixture into 2-4 (depending on the length of skewer), 2 inch wide thick sausage shapes. Push the skewer through the middle, lengthwise, and squeeze the mixture up and down the skewer, spreading it evenly. Repeat with the other skewer. 

Cover and place in refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes. This will help the meat hold together. When ready to grill, brush the outside of meat with olive oil.

Preheat the grill to high. 

Place skewers on very hot grill. Grill 5 minutes, turning frequently, or until cooked through. Serve immediately with sides of yogurt, fresh lemon, fresh chopped mint, and an onion & parsley salad.

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Dessert Grilled

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I don’t have a sweet tooth and unlike most people I can pass on chocolate. However, growing up, it would not be summer without my mom whipping-up a bunch of banana boats, my favorite summer sweet treat. It's one of those summer dessert traditions I look forward to every year. I know your whole family will love them. And, so much so I included Banana Boats in my first cookbook!

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Tips: Use large yellow bananas with the barest green tips. Avoid using bananas that are too ripe. For true decadence, top the bananas with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream and some chopped pecans before serving.

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Grilled Banana Boats

Makes 6 adults servings, or 3 child servings

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6 bananas

Three 1-ounce good quality chocolate bars; milk chocolate, dark chocolate, broken into small pieces, or 6 Tablespoons chocolate chips

2 cups mini-marshmallows

six 12 inch squares aluminum foil

Preheat a gas grill, or use a hot-charcoal grill; after cooking your main food item.

Split bananas down the inner sides, but do not remove the peels. Spread the peels apart and evenly place the chocolate pieces and marshmallows between the bananas and the peels. Bring the edges of the peels together as closely as possible and wrap each banana in aluminum foil.

Grill the bananas for 4-5 minutes; turn them and move them to the cooler edge of the grill for 4 to 5 minutes.

Serve and eat immediately.

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Grilling Corn 411

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If ever there is a time, this is it — get to farm fresh ears of corn at your local farm stand or market this week. Buy extra to grill or roast; as leftovers they are an ideal addition to so many dishes. Cut leftover corn off the cob and use in salads, salsas, soups, taco, beignets, etc. Sufferin’ succotash - add grilled corn to lima beans and tomatoes. The charred kernels adds robust nutty flavor and a nice texture addition too. Fresh is where it's at. 

I am sure you have heard a version of this tale.

"My grandmother learned from a farmer how to cook the best corn, start the water boiling, run to the corn field, pick the corn, run back to the pot, cook the corn, and eat immediately."

A good tip is to stress freshness. But, how good is this advice if you don’t know how to select sweet and juicy tasting ears?

Here's The 411: When picking: The kernels should be smooth, plump and the juice inside the kernel should appear milky.  The kernels should not be too mature, soggy and doughy. The corn is good when there is a slight browning of the silks, it is cool to the touch, fullness of the tip kernels and firmness of the unhusked ears.

I’m still trying to figure out why people husk their corn at the market and leave husks all over the place. I may just have to ask why next time. It’s actually helps the corn retain it’s freshness by leaving the husk on until right before cooking. Ears of corn should also be chilled as soon as possible after picking to slow down the sugar in the corn, as it turns to starch. Think of corn like fresh whole fish, the ears should be firm, moist and kept chilled. I suggest taking a cooler with you to the market for the ride home.

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 - Begin by pulling the husks of the corn back, but do not remove them. Remove and discard the silk and then soak the whole cobs in a pot of cold water for 15 minutes. 

- Preheat the grill to a medium temperature. 

- Remove the corn from the water and brush the kernels with olive oil. Before you re-wrap the corn in the husks, add a little caramelized garlic, chopped onion, nutmeg and black pepper. 

- For an flavorful twist, try using herbs & spices such as cilantro, garlic, chipotle chili and fresh lime juice. 

- Then reposition the husks over the kernels and tie each ear with a piece of loose husk or twine. 

- Place the prepared ears of corn on a medium heat, turning every 2 minutes. 

- After a couple of turns, place the corn husk on an indirect heat or on the top shelf of your grill and close the cover. 

- Allow the corn to slowly roast for another 10 minutes. 

- You will know it is done when you press a kernel and it shoots out it’s sweet liquid.

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