Lobster Rolls: Not Just A Maine Event

June 29, 2016
Just as the states in New England vary from one to another, so do their lobster rolls. But you can't really go wrong as long as you follow the rules.
By 
Dan Whalen
Lobster Rolls from Across New England | WGBH | CRAVING BOSTON

It’s only been five or six years that I've been obsessed with lobster rolls, but in that time, I've tried them all over New England. Lobster rolls differ from state to state, and a lot of people ask which version is the best. To me, there isn't really a clear winner. If you follow two main guidelines, your lobster rolls will be great!

1. Use really great lobster

2. Don’t mess with it too much

Rule #1 is easy. Expensive, but easy. I got my lobsters at Red's Best in the Boston Public Market and they were fresh and delicious. 

Rule #2 is where the fun begins.

Here's a state-by-state primer so you can pick your favorite: 

Maine lobster roll: lobster + mayo, and nothing else! 

Connecticut lobster roll: a buttery affair. Just as simple, but completely different. 

Rhode Island lobster roll: what many New Englanders consider to be the classic. 

Boston lobster roll: a gourmet twist on the classic, without breaking the rules. 

Read on for how to prepare each one; then have fun figuring out which to start with this weekend.  

If you need some cooking and prepping instructions, here are two sites to help you out: 

How to boil a lobster, the Maine-approved way. 

A great video from America’s Test Kitchen on the easiest way to extract all the meat from the cooked lobster.

Maine Lobster Roll

By 
Dan Whalen
Maine Lobster Roll | WGBH | CRAVING BOSTON

The baseline roll is in Maine, a state where putting celery in a lobster roll is a crime punishable by law. I have been stopped at the border of Maine and had my celery confiscated by customs. The lobster is very lightly dressed with mayo and served cold on a griddled buttered roll — split top, New England style, of course! This style of lobster roll is often seen on Cape Cod and the Islands, or pretty much any major fishing town in New England.

Ingredients 
6 ounces cooked lobster meat
1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 split top bun
  butter
Directions 
  1. Mix the lobster with the mayo.  Add a pinch of salt to taste.
  2. In a frying pan, melt a little butter on medium-high heat.
  3. Add the bun to the pan and cook to brown on all sides, about 3 minutes. Flip and brown the other side.
  4. Remove the bun from the pan and load up with the lobster.
  5. Serve immedietly.

Connecticut Lobster Roll

By 
Dan Whalen
Connecticut Lobster Roll

On the other side of the region, but equally as simplistic, you have the Connecticut lobster roll. This is the only state where a lobster roll is usually warm, and not served in the traditional split top roll. A cavern is dug out of a torpedo roll and the lobster is tossed in butter only and stuffed inside. The sandwich is then cooked almost like a grilled cheese, pressed on each side to toast up and warm through.

Ingredients 
6 ounces cooked lobster meat
2 tablespoons butter, plus more for the pan
1 torpedo roll
Directions 
  1. Mix the lobster with the melted butter.  Add a pinch of salt to taste.
  2. Cut a triangle out of the top of the roll.  Fill it with the lobster and put the top back on.
  3. In a frying pan, melt a little butter on medium-high heat.
  4. Add the roll to the pan with the lobster facing up. Cook to brown, about 3 minutes. Flip carefully and brown the other side.
  5. Remove the bun from the pan, remove the top strip of bread and discard (or snack on it).
  6. Serve immedietly.

Rhode Island Lobster Roll

By 
Dan Whalen
Rhode Island Lobster Roll | WGBH | CRAVING BOSTON

Now we've reached the part where rule #2 starts getting interpreted differently by different people. The Rhode Island lobster roll, often known as the New England lobster roll, is the style most people are familiar with. Cold lobster is tossed with slices of celery, and then the whole thing is served on the traditional griddled buttered roll, but often a piece of lettuce is placed in between the lobster and the bun in an effort to prevent the bun from getting soggy. This variant of the lobster roll might be the most common in all of New England, and the most recognized outside the region as a “lobster roll.”

Ingredients 
6 ounces cooked lobster meat
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Sliced celery (some celery leaves are a nice touch as well)
1 lettuce leaf
1 split top bun
Directions 
  1. Mix the lobster with the mayo and celery.  Add a pinch of salt to taste.
  2. In a frying pan, melt a little butter on medium-high heat.
  3. Add the bun to the pan and cook to brown, about 3 minutes. Flip and brown the other side.
  4. Remove the bun from the pan and load up with the lobster.
  5. Serve immedietly.

Boston Lobster Roll

By 
Dan Whalen
Boston Lobster Roll | WGBH | CRAVING BOSTON

“Boston Style” lobster rolls are probably not recognized by many people as a regional variant of the lobster roll, but I'm using this term to encompass lobster rolls that have been elevated with different flavors or “cheffed up” at fancy restaurants. Sometimes chefs can go too far and actually take away from the lobster itself, but if they play a light hand, the results can be amazing. My version here uses butter and mayo as a base, and just some finely minced celery and chives to accentuate the natural lobster flavor.

Ingredients 
6 ounces cooked lobster meat
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon softened butter, plus more for pan
1 teaspoon finely chopped chives
1 teaspoon finely minced celery
Directions 
  1. Mix the lobster with the mayonnaise, butter, celery, and chives. Add a pinch of salt to taste.
  2. In a frying pan, melt a little butter on medium high heat.
  3. Add the bun to the pan and cook to brown, about 3 minutes. Flip and brown the other side.
  4. Remove the bun from the pan and load up with the lobster.
  5. Serve immedietly.
  • June 27, 2016