Recipe: Lobster Chowder With Clams, Mussels and Cannellini Beans
- 4 (1-1/2 pound) live Maine lobsters
- 4 cups minced clams
- 1-1/2 pounds mussels (washed and scrubbed)
- 1 cup diced bacon
- 1 cup diced Spanish onion
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1 large zucchini (diced)
- 1 large fresh fennel bulb (diced)
- 2 cups Cannellini beans (soaked overnight in water)
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 2 cups fresh chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced garlic
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
- 15 whole black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1-1/2 tablespoons sea salt
- Cheese cloth (approximately 12 inches x 20 inches)
Fill a large stockpot with 12 quarts of water and 3 tablespoons of regular table salt. Bring to boil. Remove elastic bands from lobsters and place head-first into boiling water. Cover pot with lid and return to boil for 10-12 minutes. Remove lobsters from water, cool and pick meat out of the shells.
Cut lobster meat to bite-size pieces, except claws, which should remain whole. Reserve all shells and place lobster meat in refrigerator.
Place lobster shells, coriander seed, fennel seed, bay leaves, peppercorns and thyme in cheesecloth, tie top, and put aside. Drain and dry stockpot, add bacon, and sauté over medium heat until crispy. Discard some of the fat and add the garlic, cooking until lightly browned. Add olive oil, celery, carrots, onions and fennel, and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until vegetables are soft but not breaking apart (approximately 7 minutes). Add zucchini and fresh tomatoes and keep stirring until the tomatoes almost disappear.
Add tomato paste, Old Bay Seasoning and crushed red pepper (consistency should be almost pudding-like). Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Add minced clams, Cannellini beans, and 3-1/2 quarts of water. Add the lobster shell and spices cheesecloth to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for approximately 1 hour. Add the sea salt and chopped basil and simmer for 1/2 hour more, then discard the cheesecloth. Add mussels. Once mussels open, add lobster meat and serve immediately. Serve in soup bowls accompanied by garlic bread or peasant bread.
Chowders typically taste better when made one day in advance, allowing the flavors to set. If serving the following day, stop before adding mussels, and cool chowder on an ice bath and refrigerate. When ready to serve, bring chowder to a boil over medium heat, then add mussels and lobster meat, as above.
Serves 6 to 8