Tyrrell Hunter was content to rest on the laurels of her big win last year at the 2012 Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest… on one condition. Her husband was to enter the contest this year instead. Her 1st prize entry last year was a Seafood Hash with Lobster Hollandaise.
Tyrrell was encouraging her husband to enter this year’s contest with his idea for a Deconstructed Caesar Salad recipe featuring Maine seafood. When that recipe “went south,” Tyrrell decided she had to jump back into the kitchen and get cooking once again. We’ll bet she’s glad she did! This year, Tyrrell’s recipe for Spectacular Seafood Cannelloni took top honors.
Tyrrell paired her special dish with a delightful side salad with nasturtiums, perfectly toasted garlic bread, and complementary prosecco. Her table setting created the image of summertime in Maine complete with round straw and sunny yellow place mats, blue plates and napkins, and blue vases of flowers.
“I’d made this recipe for years at home, using different ingredients. I thought it would be the perfect recipe to change up using some seafood like lobster and scallops,” said Tyrrell. The special flavors of Maine were complemented with sun-dried tomatoes, herbs, and a heavenly bechamel sauce she made with the lobster bodies and shells.
Tyrrell had this to say of her culinary background: “Both my parents were wonderful cooks who introduced me to a broad variety of foods. I remember cooking at an early age, maybe 7 or 8 years old, baking pies with my grandmother for various holidays. By the time I was 12, I was selling my baked goods during the summer on an island in Maine. While my friends made money babysitting, I made money baking. As an adult, I have hosted most holidays and celebrations and held too many dinner parties to count.” Tyrrell has also worked to organize and cook gourmet dinners at her church for fundraising efforts.
As a diversion from closing her medical equipment business in 2011, she entered the Maine Lobster Festival Seafood Cooking Contest for the first time. She was a finalist that year with her recipe for Salmon with Lobster Mousse. 2012 was a great year for Tyrrell. In addition to her Lobster Festival win, she was also crowned the winner of the Damariscotta Pumpkin Festival Cooking Contest with her entry for Bûche de Pumpkin with Pumpkin Mousse, Caramel Buttercream Frosting (real buttercream!), garnished with Salted Pumpkin Seed Brittle, which she made look like leaves surrounding the “log.”
What’s next for Tyrrell? We hope to see her at next year’s competition as she tries for a three-peat! She said, “Numerous friends have encouraged me to open a restaurant. However, it just never happened. Given a different life path, I may have become a professional chef. Currently, my life consists of enjoying time with my children and grandkids, working full-time, as fortunately I found a decent job after our business closed, and cooking for family and friends for holidays, events, and occasional cooking competitions. Someday, maybe when I retire, I hope to write a cookbook.”
When Tyrrell writes her cookbook, we hope she includes this amazing, grand prize winning recipe for her Spectacular Seafood Cannelloni!
Spectacular Seafood Cannelloni
Tyrrell Hunter, Brunswick, ME
4 each 1 1/4 pound Maine lobsters, cold water cooked method (see below), shucked. After removing the tail vein, cut the tail and claws into 1/2- inch chunks, mix with knuckle and body meat. Save the shells and bodies of two lobsters but discard the tamale. Refrigerate all until needed.
1 pound Large Sea Scallops – with muscle removed
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter (need total of 10 Tablespoons for complete recipe)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 Tablespoon onion, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, washed, dried and chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh basil, washed, dried and chopped
1 Tablespoon sun-dried tomatoes – packed in oil, drained and chopped
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
Lobster Shells & Bodies
3½ cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
8 Tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (divided in 2 each ½ cups)
½ cup Pecorino cheese, grated (if you can’t find Pecorino, you can increase the Parmesan by ½ cup)
12 each No-Boil Lasagna Noodles
Early preparation – even a day or two in advance:
Lobsters – Next time you cook lobsters, try starting them in cold, heavily salted water (about 2 Tablespoons for large pot). Turn on heat to high (we use a gas turkey fryer outside) and bring to a rolling boil. This should take about 20-30 minutes, depending on how many lobsters are in the pot. For this recipe, you want to take 4 lobsters out as soon as they come to a boil and plunge them into cold water to stop their cooking. You want the lobsters under-cooked because the meat will finish cooking in the Cannelloni. (We cook other lobsters to eat that evening by boiling those lobsters just two more minutes for a traditional boiled lobster dinner. We use the partially cooked lobster in a variety of recipes, such as this Cannelloni recipe, over the next few days. The beauty of the cold water method is the meat is very tender because all the lobsters cook at the same temperature and the lobsters weren’t shocked entering hot water.)
About 1 ½ to 2 hours prior to serving:
To Make the Lobster Sauce:
Thoroughly strain any liquid that may have accumulated from the lobster shells. In a large saucepan on medium-low heat, steep the milk and cream with the lobster shells (without tamale!) for ½ hour, stirring a few times. Strain, reserve the milk mixture, and set aside. Discard the shells and bodies.
In the same large saucepan over medium heat, melt 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter; then stir in ½ cup flour. Stir for 1 minute to slightly cook the flour. Stir in the nutmeg, salt, and white pepper. Whisk in the hot milk/cream mixture and whisk for 5-7 minutes until the sauce is thick and smooth. Stir in ½ cup Parmesan and set aside off heat.
To Prepare the Pasta Shells:
Soak the no-bake lasagna noodles in a large bowl of warm water for about 8-10 minutes or just until they are pliable so you can bend them easily. Take out of water, pat dry, cut each noodle to 5½-6 inches long, then stack between paper towels.
To Make the Filling: (Preheat oven to 375º while making the stuffing)
In a large sauté pan on medium-high heat, melt one Tablespoon of butter with one Tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle the scallops with salt and pepper. Add scallops and onions to the pan and quickly cook the scallops about 20-30 seconds per side; add the minced garlic and sauté for 30 seconds more. Cut the scallops into quarters or eights (about the same size of the lobster tail cut-up pieces; the scallops will not be completely cooked at this point). Stir in the lobster meat, sun-dried tomatoes, herbs, and sauté for one minute to combine flavors. Drain off any accumulated water/juices. To 2/3 cup of Lobster Sauce, stir in the anchovy paste. Then add this sauce mixture to the seafood and mix gently to combine. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Take pan off heat.
To Assemble and Bake Cannelloni:
In a 13 x 9-inch pan, pour 1½ cups of the sauce and spread to cover the bottom of the pan. Put ½ cup of the filling mixture across the short side (about 3 ½ inches) of a pasta shell and roll up, putting it seam-side down in the pan. Repeat with the other shells, leaving a little space between the shells. Pour the remaining sauce over all the shells, covering completely, and sprinkle the top with the remaining ½ cup Parmesan and ½ cup Pecorino. Dot with an additional Tablespoon of butter cut into small pieces. Cover pan and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 20 minutes. If needed, lightly golden brown under the broiler just before serving. Suggest serving with a crisp salad and toasted garlic bread.
(Can be prepared in advance of final baking and refrigerated for up to 24 hours; let sit at room temperature for ½ hour, then bake for 30 minutes covered and 20 minutes uncovered, lightly brown under broiler if needed.)
Melanie Hyatt is the editor of Maine Food & Lifestyle and the Plating Up blog.