Ben Sargent, a friend for years, is known by many “names” — including Hurricane Hopeful and the Surfer/Chowder Dude, if you get the idea. But I like Star Fish. Ben’s new show called “Hook, Line & Dinner” debuted on the Cooking Channel last night. This hour show, which aired at 9 p.m., was both travelogue (from the streets of Brooklyn to the seashore of Maine) and cooking show and I learned a lot. It was fun to see how one seduces an eel and edifying to watch the back-breaking work involved in digging for clams. Ben is passionate about the sea, the people, and the creatures who inhabit that landscape. And if any of it, or them, can be eaten, so much the better. Ben has made chowder in my kitchen and I loved watching him work. I also enjoyed watching him, not long ago, in another television series “Art Race across America” — where Ben had to create art in exchange for food. He began in California and worked his way back home (to Brooklyn.) Clearly, he’s fearless. But he’s also confident, funny and warm and quite attached to his Yankee roots. That’s where we really connect.
My father grew up in Brockton, Massachusetts and one of his favorite activities when we were kids was to buy a dozen lobsters and cook them in his lobster pot in our apartment in Queens. Lobsters were only .99 cents a pound in those days. My dad had a special way of cooking them, in water as salty as the sea. We ate them all weekend long. I loved to watch his huge hands break down a lobster into delectable morsels (the knuckle meat was his favorite.) My handsome dad could also crush a lobster claw with his bare hands. He was, after all, a full back for the University of Tennessee and scored the winning touchdown in the Sugar Bowl, Jan. 1, 1943. (I have the football.) After that he was drafted by the Washington Redskins. (I have the contract.) It all came to a screeching halt sometime in his 20’s because of shin-splints and residual war injuries — but the lobster weekends continued forever, clarified butter and all.
In Radically Simple, I share an updated recipe for lobster.
Salt-Water Lobsters, Healthy Drawn Butter
Calling the drawn butter “healthy” is a bit of an exaggeration, but it is better for you and lower in saturated fats than the unadulterated stuff. The secret is to mix olive oil with a small amount of melted salted butter and spices.
3 live lobsters, 1-3/4 pounds each
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
4 tablespoons salted butter
Fill a very large pot two-thirds full with very salty water. Bring to a rapid boil. Plunge the lobsters into the pot, head first. Cover and quickly return to a boil. Once boiling, cook the lobsters for 12 minutes over high heat. Transfer to a platter and let cool 5 minutes. Split the lobsters in half through the undersides.Mix together the olive oil, paprika, and cayenne. Melt the butter and skim off the white foam. Stir the butter into the oil and serve alongside hot lobsters. Serves 3 or 6 St