There's nothing quite like the glorious simplicity of a good lobster roll, the classic sandwich that showcases sweet and tender chunks of fresh lobster meat piled inside a buttery, split-top New England-style hot dog bun. It's a beloved warm-weather delicacy that's served (and devoured) everywhere from Maine seafood shacks to Miami hotel cabanas. But now that winter is upon us, the lobster roll impresarios at Luke's Lobster are offering a comforting, cold weather treat--the Lobster Grilled Cheese--that you can make at home.
The recipe comes from Real Maine Food: 100 Plates from Fisherman, Foragers, Pie Champs, and Clam Shacks by Ben Conniff and Luke Holden, co-founders of the Luke's Lobster restaurant chain.
Read on for an excerpt about the decadent Lobster Grilled Cheese, and how to make it right every time:
"By Luke’s Lobster’s third winter, we were used to customers asking us if we had any hot sandwiches to offer. 'I love the lobster roll, but I need something besides soup to warm me up' was a common refrain," write the authors.
"It was not a difficult leap to think of the most comforting winter sandwich: grilled cheese. The bigger question was what cheese would best complement, not mask, the delicate sweetness of the lobster. Luckily, about that time we had a visit from MacKenzie Arrington, a Boothbay Harbor native who had just been crowned Maine Lobster Chef of the Year."
"We hunkered down in the kitchen with MacKenzie and a few of our teammates and ate our way through a lot of bread, cheese, and lobster (sounds like torture, no?). The winner by a long shot was a mild, slightly nutty Gruyère, and a recipe almost as simple as our signature lobster roll."
Lobster Grilled Cheese
2 slices white Pullman bread or sourdough bread
½ tablespoon unsalted butter
About ½ cup cooked Maine lobster meat, torn into ½- to ¾-inch chunks
Sliced Gruyère cheese
Fresh herbs of your choice (tarragon and/or chives are good options)
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat a 10-inch cast-iron pan with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Butter one side of both pieces of bread. On the unbuttered side of one piece, lay a slice of cheese, then the lobster, then the herbs.
Season with salt and pepper, then top with another slice of cheese. If you’re using smaller cheese slices, just make sure you have some on both sides of the lobster.
Place the second slice of bread, buttered-side up, on top. Place the sandwich in the pan and cover. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the cheese begins to melt. Flip the sandwich carefully; the cooked side should be golden brown.
Cover the pan and cook the other side for about another minute, or until that side is also golden brown and the cheese is fully melted. Remove from the pan and cut in half (diagonally, of course) to serve.