A family holiday, complete with beach time and seafood indulgence with Lobster Stuffed Baked Potatoes and a bit of PEI Cottage Cooking.
Prince Edward Island (PEI), home to red dirt and wild beaches, the perfect place to rest and recreate this summer. It was our first official summer holiday ever, a spur of the moment two week road-trip that lead us to PEI’s Island Life Cottages near Brackley Beach then onward to Nova Scotia.
Despite having lived for five years in Nova Scotia this was my first trip across the Confederation Bridge that links Islanders to the mainland, and it proved to be a trip well worth it. A homecoming of sorts, the Chef in my life lived in PEI for two years. That’s twenty years ago now, but Canada’s smallest province still holds a place his heart. It’s the pace, the breeze, the ever-present scent of iodine in the air, the freshness of the seafood, and the genuineness of it’s people that charms him. Now I see why.
I feel like most of our time was spent eating, looking for places to eat, or sussing out ingredients while touring the Island’s winding country roads, quaint maritime villages and dunes. From wicked fish shacks on the edge of the bay where you dine alfresco in your cut-offs, to stopping at the local fish monger to see what’s fresh for cottage cooking.
The Myth The Monster Lobster
Our great seafood find came in the form of a 61/2 pound lobster that we dubbed “Larry” (actually, we call all lobsters Larry). Unfortunately for Larry, he’d just seen the inside of a steamer so we felt obligated to honor his greatness. Too many people walk by the big lobsters thinking them tough, but I’ve never found this to be the case. Properly steamed even a whopper like Larry is tender and sweet. (We needed to borrow a hammer to crack that big claw though!)
Prince Edward Island is as famous for it’s red dirt potatoes as it is for it’s seafood. We opted for a hearty combination of both with Lobster Stuffed Baked Potatoes! The brain-child of the chef-in-my-life, these are so rich and filling that each potato is a meal in it’s self loaded with lobster, butter and garlic and topped with cheese. We served these (heaping) seafood stuffed potatoes with a bright chardonnay, a mound of greens and a Dijon Vinaigrette for amazing, but laid-back fare. Joined by my Mom & Step-Dad (who came for a journey of ‘pottery hunting’/granddaughter spoiling from Nova Scotia), this may have been my favorite family gathering of the trip. Intimate, wine fueled and filled with laughter.
So easy too prepare, all you need is an oven and couple cooked lobsters (or one big one like Larry) and dinner is just steps away. Perfect PEI Cottage Cooking and so worth the calories.
The best that Prince Edward Island has to offer, red dirt Russets and fresh Atlantic Lobster in a double baked potato that eats like a meal.
5 large Russet baking potatoes
3 – 4 pounds fresh, shelled, cooked lobster meat
1/2 – 3/4 cup light (18%MF) cream
1/4 cup butter (salted)
5 – 6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 cups sharp, aged Canadian cheddar
salt & pepper to taste
Wash and wrap potatoes in tinfoil, place in pre-heated 350⁰F (175⁰C) oven for 45 minutes to an hour to bake. Test to ensure potatoes are cooked through and tender with a sharp pairing knife or skewer.
While potatoes bake prepare the lobster meat, cracking and cutting as needed, leaving it chunky and bite sized. Chop onions, grate cheese and mince garlic. Reserve chilled until needed. As potatoes near finishing time add cream and butter to small sauce pan and melt to combine, do not boil. Reserve warm.
Once potatoes are cooked remove them from the oven, and do not allow them to cool! use a hand-towel or oven mitt and work quickly, first removing the tinfoil then finding the best ‘flat side’ that will allow the potato to sit upright. Cut off the ‘lid’ of the potato, at about the one-third mark, horizontally. Scoop out hot potatoes flesh with a spoon and place in a waiting bowl, leaving about a half inch of fresh with the jacket, being careful not to damage the skin. Discard the top, place remaining potatoes on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray. Discard one shell, you start with five, you end with four, heaping potatoes.
Mash potato pulp with a fork to remove any lumps and season lightly. Now fold lobster, green onions, garlic and half the cheese into the still hot potato. Drizzle in HOT cream-butter mix and fold to combine, then season to taste. Resulting mixture should be chunky and sticky like mashed potatoes – not loose and runny. Scoop and press lobster-potato mix back into the potato jackets, mounting the mix up and over. Top with remaining cheese. (At this point you can reserve at room temperature for up to an hour as needed. When ready, return to 350⁰F (175⁰C) oven for 30 – 40 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve hot.
If you’re enjoying any part of the Canadian Maritime provinces, ask the locals for their favorite fish monger/wholesaler. They often have fresh cooked lobber ready for the taking, perfect for lobster salads or lobster rolls. Then it’s up to you to crack and harvest the meat. But… if that’s too much for you… ask (and be prepared to tip) and that nice person behind the counter might even do it for you.
Cooking in her home kitchen just outside Ottawa, Canada; Cori Horton is a food photographer and recipe blogger. A Cordon Bleu-trained Chef, Cori spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn and has been sharing all things delicious - right here - since 2010.