Lobster Pot Pie: The Quest

My quest for the ideal Lobster Pot Pie began a couple years ago at a restaurant called the City Tavern in Philly. Little did I know that as I gorged myself on the best dish of my life, I would try to recreate it myself. Because I couldn’t find the recipe online and also couldn’t settle for a lesser pie, I ended up called the City Tavern and begging them for their recipe. Luckily, they disclosed it and my journey began. After a mildly traumatic Stop and Shop visit and 50 minute walk home with 10 grocery bags, I was finally prepared to start cooking. On Wednesday, I began by preparing (chopping, measuring, etc.) all my ingredients for the filling. Though I discovered I had bought garlic instead of scallions, David helped me correct my error by combining garlic and onion for the filling.

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Next, I went to the stovetop. I made the creme mixture without incident. However, the roux was another story. I didn’t know what a roux was supposed to look like (a liquid) and waited too long to begin adding flour to the buttery tomato paste. By the time I did add flour, much of the butter had evaporated, leaving insufficient liquid for the flour. As a result, when I whisked my roux into the creme, it never completely dissolved and remained in chunks.

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I put this combined mixture aside to simmer as I tackled cooking the seafood. I didn’t defrost the frozen lobster before putting it in the pan, however, which resulted in an excess of liquid.

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Because of this, I didn’t end up sautéing the seafood and had to drain liquid continuously from the pan. I put the seafood and sauce into separate containers in the fridge for the next day.

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On Thursday, I gave up my dream of making a puff pastry and, instead, made an all butter crust in a hurry and threw it in the fridge. Meanwhile, I also was reheating my ingredients. I ran into a problem with the seafood because I wanted it to be warm due to my short baking time but didn’t want it to overcook. I ended up cooking the sauce with some added water for a long time on low and only heated the seafood enough to make it lukewarm at the very end. I rolled out my dough and combined the seafood and sauce in the pie pan and put my top crust on. I put the pies in the oven to bake. I knew, since the filling was warm, that the only thing I need to worry about baking was the top crust! I ended up making enough for two pies instead of one so halve the recipe if you want one pie.

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Lobster Pie

From City Tavern: Recipes from the Birthplace of American Cuisine, ©2009 by Walter Staib

Hannah Glasse offers six recipes for lobster in The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, among

which is the recipe for lobster pie that inspired the recipe below. However, her example is the

exception rather than the rule, as lobster dishes are remarkably scarce in colonial cookbooks.

This is mainly because colonials had a low opinion of lobster and generally considered it so

undesirable that it was used as fertilizer and fish bait. When it was cooked and served, it was

given only to children, prisoners, and indentured servants. In fact, so many servants were sick of

eating lobster, they often specified in their contracts that they couldn’t be served lobster more

than three times per week.


Serves 6

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 tablespoons chopped shallots

1 cup dry sherry

1 quart Lobster Stock (page 00)

1 quart heavy cream

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, for serving

Pinch of fresh thyme

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Salt and freshly ground white pepper

3 pounds lobster tail meat

18 jumbo shrimp (about 11/4 pounds), peeled and deveined

1 cup sliced button mushrooms

1/2 cup dry sherry

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 pounds Quick Puff Pastry (page 00) or purchased puff pastry

1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water


Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and

sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until translucent. Add the sherry and bring to a boil. Continue cooking

until the liquid is reduced by half, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the stock and bring back to a

boil. Stir in the cream and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat to let simmer.

Heat 4 tablespoons of the butter in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat, add the tomato

paste, and slowly stir in the flour to form a smooth paste (or roux). Cook until the roux bubbles.

Remove from the heat and slowly whisk into the sherry-stock mixture. Return to medium heat

and cook until the sauce starts to thicken, about 2 minutes. Add the parsley, thyme, and cayenne

pepper, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve.

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, add the lobster, shrimp,

and mushrooms, and sauté for 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft and the lobster and shrimp

are white. Add the sherry to deglaze the pan, loosening any browned bits on the bottom of the

pan with a wooden spoon. Divide the mixture among six 14- to 16-ounce au gratin or casserole

dishes. Divide the reserved sauce among the six dishes. (The sauce should cover the filling.)

On a lightly-floured surface, roll out the Quick Puff Pastry to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out 6

circles allowing 1-inch overhang and place on top of the au gratin dishes. Crimp the pastry to the

edge of the dishes, prick the dough with fork to allow steam to escape, and brush with the egg-

water wash.

Bake for 12 minutes, until the edges of the pastry are brown and the centers are golden brown.

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