Seafood will be on the menu at plenty of gatherings this holiday weekend. And no one knows it better than Luke Holden, a third-generation lobsterman from Maine who's brought the taste of his home state to the world by co-founding Luke's Lobster.
Holden grew up in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and started learning the lobster trade at 13. After college, he worked as an investment banker on Wall Street -- but he saw an opportunity to bring the joys of Maine's casual lobster shacks to New York City. Ten years ago, he opened the first Luke's Lobster in New York City with his father. Now, there are nearly 40 locations across the U.S.
Here are a few of his signature recipes:
Fisherman's lobster boil
seawater, or ¼ cup fine sea salt (if seawater is unavailable)
10 lbs. seaweed, or an additional ¼ cup of sea salt
12 (1¼- to 1¾-pound) live Maine lobsters
3 lbs. red new potatoes, left whole
12 fresh ears corn, husks on 1 whole head garlic, separated into cloves
peeled 3 dozen steamer clams
3 dozen mussels
1¼ pound (5 sticks) unsalted butter
juice of 1 lemon
- Fire up your burner to a medium-high ﬂame. Fill the bottom of the tub with seawater (or with fresh water, adding the salt) to a depth of about 2 inches, place it over the heat, and bring the water to a boil.
- Add about half of the seaweed (or extra salt) to the pot. Now add all 12 lobsters. Next, place the potatoes, corn, and garlic on top. Then add the clams and mussels, and ﬁnally, top with the remaining seaweed. Cover all the food with a piece of wet burlap large enough to fully cover the food with some overhang, and tuck the sides in around the edges of the food inside the tub to ensure it's well covered.
- Once the water returns to a boil (you'll be able to hear the agitation in the water), steam the food for about 25 minutes, pouring a couple pints of water over the burlap after about 15 minutes to keep it moist. During the last 10 minutes, in a medium saucepan, melt 1 pound (4 sticks) of the butter. Add the lemon juice to the melted butter, mix well, and distribute among four bowls for dipping.
- After 25 minutes, pull back the burlap and check for doneness: The lobster should be bright red and its antennae should pop off easily when pulled; the clams and mussels should all have opened up (discard any that don't open); and the potatoes should feel soft when poked with a fork. If the food's not done, cover it back up and check again in 5 minutes. When everything is ﬁnished, uncover and remove the pot from the heat.
- We like to present the food right on top of the burlap: Lay it out over a picnic table or right on the ground, then pile each ingredient together and set the bowls of lemon butter alongside, with the remaining stick of butter ready to spread on the corn, and let your guests have at it.
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ small onion, finely minced
½ stalk celery, finely minced
2 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
3 cups clam juice (if you're in Maine, look for Bar Harbor Clam Juice)
½ tbsp. fresh thyme
½ tsp. dried thyme
½ tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped fresh clams
1 cup heavy cream Oyster crackers or crusty bread, for serving
- In a heavy stockpot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and sauté until golden and reduced in bulk, about 7 minutes.
- Add the potatoes, clam juice, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper to taste and stir to combine. Cover and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally to keep from burning on the bottom, until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.
- Stir in the clams and continue to cook for 5 minutes; add the cream to the mixture and bring to a simmer, but do not boil, about 10 minutes. Serve with oyster crackers or crusty bread.
Luke's Lobster Roll
4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
4 New England–style split-top hot dog buns
4 tsp. mayonnaise
1 lb. fresh cooked Maine lobster meat, chilled 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. dried thyme
¼ tsp. celery salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.
- Brush half the butter onto the outer sides of your buns. Heat a 10- to 12-inch cast-iron pan over medium heat for 2 minutes, then toast the buns in the pan until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove the buns from the pan and gently pry open the tops.
- Spread about 1 teaspoon of the mayonnaise on the inside of each bun. Arrange a quarter of the lobster meat inside each bun. Reheat the remaining melted butter, if necessary, and stir in the lemon juice.
- Drizzle the mixture evenly over the lobster in each sandwich. In a small bowl, stir together the oregano, thyme, celery salt, and pepper, then sprinkle a pinch of the seasoning mixture over each sandwich.
Crab Cakes with Fresh Corn
1 lb. fresh Maine Jonah crabmeat (or other crabmeat, if Jonah is unavailable), picked over for shell fragments
1 cup fresh raw corn kernels
½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
½ cup mayonnaise
½ tsp. mustard powder
½ tsp. cayenne
½ tsp. fine sea salt
1 large egg
¼ cup crushed saltine crumbs
1 cup panko bread crumbs
4 tbsp. vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, or other high-smoke-point oil, for frying
Tangy Tartar Sauce (below), for serving
- In a large bowl, combine the crabmeat, corn, onion, mayonnaise, mustard powder, cayenne, and salt. Mix thoroughly with a large spoon. Crack the egg into a small bowl and beat lightly, then add it to the crab mixture. Add the saltine crumbs, and stir the mixture again until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Pour the panko into a shallow bowl or dish. Use your hands to form the crab mixture into 8 patties. Sprinkle the patties by hand with panko by hand until coated. Place the crab cakes on a tray and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 12.
- Preheat the oven to 200ºF. In a 12-inch cast-iron pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat.
- Test the heat of your oil by tossing a panko crumb into the pan. If it immediately sizzles and starts frying, the oil is ready. Place 2 crab cakes in the pan and fry until the bottom is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Carefully flip the cakes and cook for 3 minutes more, until both sides are evenly golden brown.
- Transfer the crab cakes to an oven-safe plate. Pat any excess oil off the cakes with a paper towel, and place the plate in the oven to stay warm. Repeat with the remaining cakes, and serve hot when the last batch is finished.
Tangy Tartar Sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup diced dill pickle
2 tbsp. minced shallot
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. cayenne
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients. If transferred to an air-tight container, the sauce will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.
Wild Blueberry Pie
Crust (yields 2 single crusts)
2 ½ cups AP flour
3 tsp. granulated sugar
2 sticks cold, salted butter cut into ½ inch pieces
1/2 cup cold water + ¼ cup ice
4 tbsp. apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
4.5 cups frozen wild blueberries
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp. all-natural lemon juice
4 tbsp. AP flour
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. kosher salt
Glaze for crust
1 large egg, mixed with 1 tbsp. of water
- Heat oven to 350ºF.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour and sugar.
- Add cold butter to bowl and cut into the dry ingredients using a fork, until mixture is small pea-size lumps.
- Mix together the ice water and cider vinegar. Add to dry ingredients 1 tablespoon at a time, kneading with hands after each tablespoon until dough comes together. You will not need all the vinegar water.
- Place dough onto floured counter and form into 2 disks of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1.5 hours.
- Place chilled or thawed dough on floured counter, and use a rolling pin to roll into two 1/8" circles.
- Place 1 dough circle over pie tin and press into sides. The second dough round will be the top of the pie. Use fork to prick dough all over, and place dough in fridge while you prepare the filling.
- Combine filling ingredients in large bowl and toss until blueberries are fully coated.
- Add filling to pie dough, and place second pie dough circle over the filling. Crimp dough edges together. Cut an "X" slit in the center of the top dough to allow steam to release when cooking.
- Gently brush egg-wash over top of crust.
- Place pie on baking sheet and bake in oven for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla or your choice of ice cream.
Spritz & Giggles
1 oz. Vodka
2 oz. Strawberry Rhubarb Puree
.5 oz. lemon juice
.5 oz. simple syrup
sparkling wine (to top) – we use Oyster River Morphos Pet Nat
Strawberry rhubarb puree
1 cup fresh rhubarb, sliced 1" pieces
1 cup fresh strawberries, stems removed and halved
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
- To make strawberry rhubarb puree, combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Let simmer, stirring continuously, until rhubarb and strawberries are fully softened, about 10 minutes. Use an immersion blender to blend, and set aside puree in fridge to chill - at least 2 hours. You will have more puree than needed for 1 cocktail, so save in fridge for future cocktails, yogurt topping, or pancake topping….
- Combine all cocktail ingredients together in your preferred glass and stir to combine. Top cocktail with sparkling wine, garnish with a fresh strawberry and enjoy!