A couple of weeks ago Jacob asked me to go backcountry camping in Bon Echo Provincial Park with our friend Todd and his friend Chuck, that we had never met. As the only lady on the trip, I took my role pretty seriously, making sure we packed enough food to survive 3 days as we headed into the wild.
The evening before we left, as I was running around getting nuts and cranberry juice (I sometimes have problems focusing on what is essential and what is not), Todd sent out a Tweet.
I tweeted back, very impressed but wondered how the hell this guy was planning to make some lobster on a camp fire. After all, we were going into the wild! We would be at least 30 minutes from the closest store, this was serious commitment from Chuck (I love being dramatic). My expectations were high!
The moment I was introduced to Chuck, I liked him. I quickly learned he was from Dieppe, in New Brunswick – I spent 5 years living in Moncton so we had plenty to talk about. As he was unpacking his gear and his food, I shortly realised the guy was serious about cooking and that my steaks with store bought BBQ sauce and my sliced small potatoes were going to be lame when sided with HIS elaborate meal. Damn you Chuck!
The surf portion of this surf and turf meal was called Lobster Étouffée. As Chuck was stirring the base for his sauce, the roux, I sat down with him and realised he actually was into cooking – like for real! And by the smell alone of his sauce, it was easy to tell he was excellent at it.
Asking about how he developed this recipe, Chuck told me it came from a trip he had done some time ago. “I was on my way to Louisiana in the coming months for vacation and I wanted to search for a local recipe to try replicating – and eventually to compare with – once I was there,” he said.
“I’m pleased to say that I actually preferred my own take on this one but to be fair, they typically use crayfish in the south rather than lobster.” As he was explaining all this and that Jacob was taking pictures and Todd was cutting some branches to start a fire (dangerous task for Todd we would soon learn), Chuck realised he had burned the bottom of his sauce. He barely grumbled, threw out his sauce, washed his pan and started again from scratch. That was real dedication, right there and then!
So he started again, and we ended up enjoying a meal I would have paid a lot to have in the city. It was the perfectly balanced dish – spicy, flavourful, the texture was perfect and the lobster was so good! It was cooked with frozen lobster Chuck had brought back from Shédiac, New Brunswick a couple of days before.
After the trip, as Todd went back home with some cuts, burns, highly reacting to all the mosquito bites, and probably some other foreign disease (camping is a dangerous sport for Todd I had learned), I went back home to found an email from Chuck with his recipe. Agreeing to share it on the blog, with Jacob’s pictures, I thought this was the best memory ever from a great adventure into the wild.
At the end of his email, Chuck wrote something I believed would conclude this post pretty well. “I hope you enjoy this recipe again as you did when we were on the camping trip and that others will try it for themselves and enjoy it as well. The most effort required will be to keep a very watchful eye on the roux to ensure it doesn’t burn. Once it has reached the right colour, the rest is nearly effortless.”
For more pictures please visit www.jacobfergusphoto.com
You will need
1lb of thawed lobster pieces
1 medium-size yellow onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
6-7 stalks of chopped, fresh parsley
3-4 stalks of chopped celery
1 tablespoon of paprika
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper (more or less, as desired)
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of cream
Roux: (oil and flour are a 1:1 ratio)
4-5 tablespoons of peanut oil (or coconut, grape seed, canola)
4-5 tablespoons of flour
What to do:
Begin by adding oil and flour to a saucepan or dutch oven at low-medium heat. Stir the roux constantly for 20 to 30 minutes. The goal is to get the roux to a peanut butter colour without burning. If the roux burns, begin the process again.
Add chopped onion, green pepper and celery. Keep stirring until veggies become somewhat tender (approximately 5 minutes).
If possible, use brine from lobster bag and add in a bit at a time. Ideally, you should have about 1 1/2 cups of liquid. If there isn’t enough lobster brine to reach this amount, clam juice also works great for this recipe.
Add your seasoning: paprika, cayenne, bay leaves, garlic, salt & pepper.
Simmer for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add chopped parsley (save a small amount for final garnish if desired) and simmer for another 10 minutes.
Add lobster, butter and cream, and simmer for final 5 minutes.
Serve with preferred rice, and enjoy!