What’s the secret ingredient that makes New England food so great? Chase says it’s nothing.
The New England approach to food is really all about simplicity and valuing something as effortless as an ear of corn or a slice of a garden tomato, she says.
“It’s about appreciating things from the soil and the sea … and not over-embellishing them and letting food taste like it tastes.”
Below are some of Chase’s favorite recipes from her new book, so you can eat like you’re in New England, even if you’re in D.C.
The Classic New England Lobster Roll
1 generous pound cooked lobster meat, freshly picked from the shell and cut into meaty chunks (2 cups chunks)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 rib celery, cut into ¼-inch dice
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill or chives
⅓ to ½ cup mayonnaise, homemade or Hellmann’s
3 to 4 tablespoons butter, preferably Kate’s salted butter at room temperature
4 New England-style, top split hot dog buns
Place the lobster meat in a medium-size mixing bowl, add the lemon juice, and toss to coat lightly. Add the celery and dill or chives, stirring gently to combine. Fold in just enough mayonnaise to bind the ingredients together. The filling should be moist but not soupy. If you are not using the lobster salad immediately, store it in the refrigerator, covered, for no more than a few hours.
When ready to serve, generously butter the outside of each hot dog bun and then brown the buns in a skillet, one side at a time (and not the bottom or insides) over medium-low heat, until the outsides become golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon the chilled lobster salad down the center of each toasted hot dog bun, mounding the filling somewhat sumptuously. Serve at once, as the temperature contrast between the warm, buttery hot dog buns and the cold lobster filling is an essential component of the whole wonderful lobster roll experience.
Bluefish Flambeed with Gin
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 very fresh skin-on bluefish fillet (1¾ to 2 pounds)]
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1 plump shallot, peeled and minced
½ cup gin
1½ tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro
Lime wedges, for serving
Position an oven rack about 4 inches underneath the heat source and preheat the broiler to high.
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large, heavy, ovenproof skillet, such as a cast-iron one, over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted and is hot, place the bluefish fillet, skin side down, in the skillet. Immediately season the top of the fillet with salt and pepper to taste, then drizzle the lime juice over it. Scatter the lime zest and shallot evenly over the fillet. Once the skin has begun to brown and the outer edges of the fillet are starting to turn opaque, about 3 minutes, remove the skillet from the heat. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the fillet.
Place the skillet underneath the broiler and broil the bluefish until it has browned on top and the flesh flakes easily when tested in the center with a fork, 4 to 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the gin and the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until the butter melts and the gin is warm, 1- 1/2 to 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven. Pour the warm gin over the bluefish and carefully ignite it with a long match away from anything flammable. Once the flames have subsided, sprinkle the parsley or cilantro over the bluefish. Cut the fillet into serving pieces and serve it with the pan juices spooned on top and lime wedges on the side. The skin will have separated from the fillet and I tend not to serve the bluefish with its skin.
Fig N Pig
2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
6 ounces creamy blue cheese at room temperature
2 ounces mascarpone, preferably from Vermont Creamery
1 1/2 tablespoons cream sherry
5 fresh black figs, stemmed and quartered lengthwise
20 rounds of French bread sliced 1/4 inch think from a skinny baguette, lightly toasted
Preheat the over to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with heavy-duty aluminum foil or parchment paper. Arrange the pancetta slices on a prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Arrange almonds on the second prepared baking sheet. Bake the pancetta until nicely crisped, 10 to 12 minutes.
The almonds will have to be watched more closely and will take a few minutes less time. Transfer the pancetta slices to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Set the almonds aside. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees.
Place the blue cheese, mascarpone and sherry in a small mixing bowl and mash them together with a fork until thoroughly combined. Spread the cheese mixture generously over each toasted bread round and arrange the rounds on a fresh parchment-lined baking sheet. Nestle a fig quarter into the cheese mixture in the center of each toast round.
Crumble the crisp pancetta into small shards and stick the shards and the almonds into the cheese surrounding each fig quarter, as if you were making imaginary porcupine quills. Bake the toast rounds until the cheese is bubbling, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve hot or warm.