We asked our friend Sam Hayward of Fore Street restaurant in Portland, Maine, for the recipe for this aromatic stew—as pleasing to cook as it is to eat.
- 16 tbsp. (½ lb.) unsalted butter
- 12 oz. hen of the woods or chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 (1 1/2 -2-lb.) live Maine lobsters
- 24 small or 12 medium halved thin-skinned potatoes, such as fingerlings or white creamers, parboiled
- ½ cups calvados, bourbon, or hard cider
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 medium shallot, peeled and minced
- Leaves of ¼ bunch parsley, chopped
- 12 chives, chopped
- 6-8 sprigs chervil, chopped
Make a wood fire in a fireplace. Bring a large pot of water to a boil on top of the stove over high heat. Meanwhile, melt 2 tbsp. of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook until just tender, 3-5 minutes. Set aside.
Boil lobsters in pot of water for 2 minutes. Drain, then plunge lobsters into a large bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking further. Drain lobsters when cool. Working over a large colander set into a large bowl, separate tails and claws from lobster bodies. Remove meat from knuckles and put into a large, footed cast-iron pot with lid. Crack claws and add to pot. Cut tails into thirds crosswise and add to pot. Pour into pot 1 cup of the lobster juices that have accumulated in the bowl under the colander. Add potatoes, mushrooms, calvados, garlic, shallots, parsley, chives, chervil, remaining butter, and salt and pepper to taste to pot. Cover pot with lid.
When there is a full bed of hot embers in the hearth of the fireplace, set pot on top of the burning embers. Using a metal shovel, cover lid with more hot embers. Cook stew for 8-10 minutes. Sweep off embers, uncover pot, and serve stew.