This is one of Ina Garten’s most beloved recipes. It dates all the way back to 1999 when it appeared in Ina’s first cookbook “The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook” (Clarkson Potter 1999). Since I can’t think of a better time for luxury foods like lobster than the holidays, I planned a dinner around it. But whether lobster still counts as a luxury, I am not altogether sure. The Maine Lobstermen certainly don’t think so as it brings in only $1.60 or less a pound! (Somehow, by the time it arrives at our fishmonger in New York, it’s $9.99 a lb. Still a bargain for sure, with divers scallops at 24.99 a lb and Lump Crabmeat at 19.99 a lb.). I decided to turn a Saturday night supper into Lobster Pot Pie and a salad. But first, I wanted to share what I hope will give you a good laugh.
The comments and reviews pages on famous chef’s websites are a source of bafflement, annoyance and laugh-out-loud hysteria to me. I do not understand those amateur chefs who weigh in on a recipe when they have completely, and inexplicably in most cases, altered a recipe beyond all description. I have to admit that this one took the cake: Here, a woman appropriately named ‘annaharm’ (although “Inaharm” might have been even more appropriate) has butchered Ina’s recipe and made something that doesn’t even resemble the original. Here, in her own words, is Annaharm’s take on Ina’s Lobster Pot Pie:
“ Ina is my favorite Food Network chef and her lobster pot pie looked so yummy. Unfortunately, my husband is not a big lobster fan. So I tweaked the recipe a bit and made chicken pot pie. I used chicken instead of lobster. I left out the fennel and Pernod. I substituted chicken broth for the clam juice and used frozen carrots instead of pearl onions. I also didn’t use the parsley because I didn’t have any fresh on hand. I used a Bisquick ready made pie crust. I baked it in a 9X13 casserole dish that I had coated in butter. It turned out amazing! The entire pan was gone in less than thirty minutes. I served mine with a side of white rice. It was the best pot pie I had ever tasted. I will most definitely be adding this to my “go to” meal list!”
Well at least she liked it, giving her “Lobster Pie” 5 stars. But honestly….
I confess to altering something too. I used frozen puff pastry to top the pie and I didn’t have any crust on the bottom at all. Still, the filling is pure Ina, rich and creamy, with a hint of anise flavor. I made this pie in a 9 inch Emile Henry ceramic pie plate. In the past I’ve put the pie into individual Apilco casseroles. If you have these, I would use them: the filling in this pie is a little liquid-y. So ladle the filling into the bowls and cut the puff pastry into rounds using the top of the Apilco bowls as a guide.
The first time I made this dish, one houseguest lamented the amount of lobster in the finished pie. If you can do it, try using a 1 lb. lobster per two people. This will give you plenty of lobster. I am in the fortunate position of buying my lobster at Fairway (Like no other store) where, for free, they’ll steam and crack your lobster in all of about ten minutes while you do the rest of your shopping. Here’s the recipe:
Recipe for Ina Garten’s Lobster Pot Pie
Serves 4. Total Cooking Time 2 ½ hours. 30 Mins Prep. 30 Mins. Inactive. 1 ½ hours Cooking time.
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (1 large onion)
3/4 cup chopped fennel (1 fennel bulb)
1/4 pound unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups fish stock or clam juice
1 tablespoon Pernod
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons heavy cream
The meat from 2 1-lb. lobsters (or no less than 3/4 pound cooked fresh lobster meat)
1 1/2 cups frozen peas (not “baby” peas)
1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions
1/2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
1 Sheet frozen Puff Pastry
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water or heavy cream, for egg wash
Defrost the frozen puff pastry 40 minutes before baking.
Saute the onions and fennel with the butter in a large saute pan on medium heat until the onions are translucent, 10 to 15 minutes.
Add the flour and cook on low heat for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Slowly add the stock, Pernod, salt, and pepper and simmer for 5 more minutes. Add the heavy cream.
Cut the lobster meat into medium-sized cubes. Place the lobster, frozen peas, frozen onions, and parsley in a bowl (there is no need to defrost the vegetables).
Pour the sauce over the mixture and check the seasonings. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Roll out the puff pastry. If using Apilco bowls, use their top and cut the puff pastry into 4 equal circles. Fill the bowls with the lobster mixture, and top with the crust. Crimp the crusts together and brush with the egg wash. Make 4 or 5 tiny slashes in the top crust and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.