Chef Clifford Pickett was one of three finalists for the Harvest on the Harbor Lobster Chef of the Year. What a difficult choice we had voting. Clifford’s entree was creative and tasty. The tamale was exceptional.
Steamed Maine Lobster & Sweet Corn Tamale with Creamy Chilies and Leeks
Clifford Pickett – DiMillo’s Floating Restaurant
Sweet Corn Tamale Ingredients
1 1/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
2 cups fresh corn kernels
1 medium shallot
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
15 dried corn husks, soaked in warm water for 1-2 hrs.
1. Fully submerge corn husks in a large bowl or pot using hot tap water. Let soak 1-2 hours or until pliable.
2. In a food processor or blender combine corn, shallot, melted butter, buttermilk and chicken stock. Blend for 30 seconds or until there are no large pieces of shallot or corn.
3. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl, add cornmeal, sugar, salt and pepper. Mix well until there are no large lumps.
4. After corn husks have soaked for 1-2 hours, remove them from the water and pat dry. Set aside the largest, best looking husks.
5. With the remaining husks, make ties by tearing the husks, lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips.
6. Place one of your large husks on a flat surface and spoon about 1/3 cup of your cornmeal mixture in middle of the husk.
7. Fold each of the long sides of the corn husks tightly over each other, then tie each end of the tamale with one of the strips. Do this until you have used up all your filling, you will most likely have a few extra husks.
8. Once you are done wrapping your tamales, place them in a steamer pot on a rack, and steam for one hour. Let tamales rest for 10 minutes before plating.
4 1 1/8 pound lobsters
1. Fill pot so that water comes up the sides about two inches. Add 1 teaspoon of salt for each quart of water. Bring water to a rolling boil over high heat.
2. Place lobsters in the pot on a steamer rack, cover tightly and start counting the time. Steam lobster for 7 minutes.
3. Remove claw, knuckle and tail meat from the shells. Leave claw and knuckle meat whole and chop tail into bite-size pieces. Set aside until sauce is made.
Note: In general, lobster is steamed for 7 minutes for the first pound and 3 minutes for each additional pound. In this recipe, cook the 1 1/8 pound lobsters for exactly 7 minutes because they are reheated in the sauce later. If you do not have a steamer rack for your pot, the lobster can be placed directly into the water.
Creamy Chilies and Leeks Ingredients
1 cup leeks
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 jalapeno or Fresno peppers (seeded and finely chopped)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Add vegetable oil to large sauté pan and bring to medium heat. Combine leeks, minced garlic and jalapenos. Cook 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned.
2. Add coconut milk and cream. Reduce on medium heat, stirring frequently until it is a sauce consistency or thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add chopped cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Add lobster meat to sauce and reheat when you are ready to begin plating.
Remove tamales from corn husks and place on individual serving plates. Spoon equal amounts of lobster and sauce over tamales. Garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs.
Note: If fresh corn is not in season, frozen corn works fine. Tamales may be made ahead of time and refrigerated before steaming. If your tamales are not hot when its time for plating, they can be reheated in the steamer. Tamale mixture may appear looser than it should be, but it will firm up after resting. Corn husks may be used for plating presentation.
You can experience more of Chef Pickett’s creations at DiMillo’s Floating Restaurant, right in the center of Portland on the harbor.
25 Long Wharf
Portland, ME 04101