JFK’s Lobster Stew

Boston’s Locke-Ober restaurant opened in 1875 and closed in 2012 after 137 years of being an integral part of Boston and American history.  For example, in 1959 Jack met with his brother Bobby and his father Joseph P. Kennedy to plan their strategy for his 1960 Presidential Campaign in one of Locke-Ober’s 2nd floor private rooms.  It is believed that during this lunch John F. Kennedy ordered his favorite Locke-Ober’s Lobster Stew.

After his election President John F. Kennedy looked forward to his summer vacations from Washington by sailing on the Presidential Yacht, Honey Fitz, to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket or cruising around the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis.

Courtesy Cape Cod Maritime Museum

The story is that President Kennedy made a special request of Locke-Ober’s Executive Chef that his favorite Lobster Stew be sent to the Honey Fitz for each sailing.



Chef Lydia Shire, years later after assuming control of  Locke-Ober, decided to name their famous Lobster Stew, the JFK Lobster Stew in his honor.  So here is the recipe for Locke-Ober’s JFK Lobster Stew.

For those interested in seeing the Honey Fitz, tours are available by visiting the Cape Cod Maritime Museum in Hyannis: http://www.capecodmaritimemuseum.org/

JFK Lobster Stew Recipe
2 quarts

6 1-lb. live Lobsters, rinsed
2 sticks butter, softened
1 ½ cups medium-dry or cream sherry
6 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
Pinch cayenne
1-2 pinches paprika
Freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp. fresh lemon juice
Leaves from 2 sprigs of parsley, cut into thin strips

Boil a large pot of salted water. Place the lobsters into the boiling water, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lobsters from the boiling water and quickly transfer them to a large bowl filled with ice water to cool. When the lobsters are cool enough to handle, remove the tail and claw meat, and coarsely chop. Hold on to the shells. Tightly cover the meat and refrigerate.

In a large Dutch oven, melt a stick of butter over medium-high heat. Add the shells and cook, stirring, until they turn bright red (usually in 2 to 3 minutes). Add 1 cup of the Sherry and bring the mixture to a
boil. Cook until reduced by half (usually about 3 minutes). Add the milk, cream, paprika, salt, and pepper, and return to a boil. Once the mixture has reached a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until it is slightly thickened (usually15 to 20 minutes). Remove from the heat and let it cool. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight for the flavors to fully develop.

Remove the milk and shell mixture from the refrigerator and strain it into a container through a fine mesh strainer, setting aside the portion caught in the strainer. In a large pot, melt the remaining stick of butter over medium-high heat. Add the chopped lobster meat and cook, stirring, until the meat is lightly colored (usually 2 to 3 minutes). Add the remaining 1/2 cup of Sherry and turn the heat up to high. Cook while stirring to deglaze the pan until the mixture is reduced by half. Add the strained milk mixture and bring to a low boil. Simmer and stir until the stew is heated through.

Remove the stew from the heat and season to taste. Spoon into bowls and garnish with chopped fresh parsley. Serve immediately.

A delicious gift for any occasion – Anniversaries, Birthdays, Holidays, or just to say Thank You, is a Gift Certificate from these great Cape Cod Restaurants.  https://www.capecodrestaurants.com/info/gift_certificates.php




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