Lobster Cacciatora

From Great Italian American Food in New England. This recipe is a dish my great uncle made when he came to visit us when I was very young. I have recreated it through memory. Cacciatora is Italian for hunter. Hunters’ stews usually refer to stews made with fresh rabbit, poultry and game. The game off the shores of Cape Cod is lobster, fish and shellfish. I pick my own mussels and dig for clams off the beach near my home. I am also fortunate to know many local fishermen who offer me fresh catches of the day. With all of this abundance of local fish and shellfish available, I created this cacciatore-style dish very close to the flavors of the dish Zio Cherubino, my grandfather’s brother and a chef from Connecticut, made for the family when he and wife Tersilla visited us.
By / Photography By Francine Zaslow | November 18, 2016

Preparation

FOR THE SAUCE

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add garlic and red pepper or pepper flakes, and cook until garlic is slightly browned (do not burn it).

Add and stir in the tomatoes, fresh herbs and salt. Add lobster or clam stock. Simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes. During the last five minutes, prepare and cook the lobsters.

FOR THE LOBSTERS

If you are timid about killing a lobster, have your fishmonger do it for you.

Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet. Add olive oil and turn up the heat to very high. At this point, everything should be done very quickly. Add the lobsters in the shell, and sear them on all sides. Pour on the cognac to ignite.

Add the wine and the sauce, reduce the heat, and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with a large slice of polenta.

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Ingredients

For the Sauce
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Italian red finger pepper or ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes. More may be added for a hotter sauce.
  • 1 can (28-ounce) peeled crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • salt to taste
  • 1 pint lobster or clam stock
FOR THE LOBSTERS
  • 2 (1½- or 2-pound) live lobsters
  • 2 tablespoons clarified butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cognac
  • 1 cup dry white wine
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