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The Heart of New England
Lobster and Corn Chowder
by Charlie Burke

When we had a cottage at Sebago Lake in Maine
we had a Labor Day cookout each year with our
North Sebago neighbors. September marks the
peak in quality and availability of local produce,
and I concocted this chowder to use the best Maine
has to offer: flavorful local heirloom tomatoes,
sweet fresh corn, new potatoes, herbs and, of
course, Maine lobsters. It also calls for smoked
bacon, and it’s worth the effort to find a New
England smoke house if you can; we now use Fox
Country Smoke House in Canterbury, New
Hampshire which sells thickly sliced perfectly
smoked bacon unlike anything available in

A stock made of the lobsters’ shells and of the corn
cobs takes a little time but really highlights the

As you may have noted, the flavor of chowder is
enhanced by setting aside to “cure” for at least an
hour; even better taste results from refrigerating it
overnight, so this is the perfect recipe for
company. If refrigerating, let it cool for an hour,
then refrigerate uncovered until chilled, then
cover. Covering it slows cooling and may result in
center being warm, permitting bacterial growth.

Four to six servings:

4 1 ¼ pound lobsters
4 ears fresh sweet corn
1 medium onion, diced
¼ pound smoked bacon
2 pounds potatoes, preferably new potatoes,
cut into ½ inch dice
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 cup basil, torn into small pieces or chopped
2 cups heavy cream or fat free cream
2 cups dry white wine
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons canola oil

Bring a large pot of salted water (2 tablespoons/
quart) to a rapid boil.

Boil lobsters for 8 minutes after they return to the
boil. Drain, cool and remove lobster meat.

Remove intestinal tract from the tail and the
cartilage from claws - note the meat is not
completely cooked. Cooking is finished when the
meat is added to the chowder. Chop into 1 - 1 ½
inch pieces and refrigerate.

In a heavy bottom pot heat oil over high heat.
Chop shells roughly and place in pot, stirring until
slightly browned and aromatic.

While shells are cooking, cut the kernels from the
four ears of corn and set aside.

Add wine to shells and continue on high heat until
wine is nearly evaporated.

Add corn cobs, 2 quarts water, the pepper corns
and bay leaves. Cook at a steady simmer until
stock is reduced to half.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer.

Wipe out pot, place over medium heat and add
bacon. Cook until bacon is brown and crisp.

Drain off nearly all of the fat and add onions,
cooking until soft but not brown.

Add stock, potatoes and tomatoes, cooking at a
simmer until potatoes are softened.

Add lobster, corn, chopped basil, butter and cream
and keep over heat for a couple minutes.

Taste, adding salt and pepper as needed.

Take off heat, let sit for one hour, then reheat. If not
serving the same day, cool, refrigerate uncovered,
then cover. This will keep for 2 days.

This recipe has several steps, none of which is
difficult. If you make this, be prepared to be asked
to you do it again. It appeared at every Labor Day
cookout while we were at Sebago and may have
been the reason we were invited to the cookouts
even after we had sold our cottage!

About the author
An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie
Burke is the vice president of the New Hampshire
Farmer’s Market Association (
and helps run the Sanbornton Farmers' Market.
Along with his wife, Joanne, he grows certified
organic herbs, greens and berries at Weather Hill
Farm in Sanbornton, NH.  
The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
©The Heart of New England online magazine
...celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine, New Hampshire & Vermont!
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