Lobster meets potato in Topsham: Maine food companies unite for culinary combo

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TOPSHAM — Just when you thought lobster had enough dance partners, along comes another Maine classic, the potato, to waltz the celeb shellfish back into the spotlight.

The lobster stuffed potato is the latest invention from Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co. This fall, crustacean queen Cal Hancock teamed up with potato company Penobscot McCrum of Belfast for the tasty twofer.

“A lot of people mix lobster into mashed potatoes,” said Hancock, who has won numerous awards for her lobster-inspired fare. “It never struck me as all that great, not enough flavor.”

But chunks of sweet lobster in a rich cheese sauce tucked into a potato cup? Now we’re talking.

“We are always looking to do something a little different. We were playing around with mashed potatoes for a long time,” said Hancock, who has dozens of lobster dishes, from flatbreads to mac and cheese in her growing online empire.

By collaborating with the Belfast company – whose white chef round potatoes grown in western and northern Maine meld with local lobster topped with panko breadcrumbs – she has dreamed up a new delicacy.

“It’s essentially a potato cup with our lobster with mascarpone-cheddar sauce. It’s really good,” Hancock said.

Penobscot McCrum, the chief supplier of potato skins for TGI Fridays, goes upmarket with the lobster-stuffed potato, which sells for $44.95 (and serves four), on HancockGourmetLobster.com.

A new twist on surf and turf?

“We are excited to partner with another Maine company,” Lesa Berard, brand manager for Penobscot McCrum, said. “It’s decadent, a fabulous meal in itself and a great side dish with steak.”

Hancock, who beat TV chef Bobby Flay with her lobster mac and cheese a few years back, may have another hit on her hands.

Because most of the potato has been scooped out to make way for creamy chunks of fresh lobster, the new product is really a skin gone uptown.

“When you think potato skin, you think cheese and bacon. I said ‘let’s make the potato skin more upscale,’” said the Maine native weaned on potatoes and lobster.

The Belfast spuds company has already had interest from sporting venues and cruise ships.

At the same time, bar food is going gourmet. “The combination of the potato makes it really comforting,” Hancock said. ”It’s a nice mouthful of lusciousness.”

Not content to rest on her lobster lauds, Hancock said she has more tricks up her sleeve for 2015. She is taking a break from the Fancy Food Show in New York City, where she’s taken top honors for more than a decade, but not from her kitchen.

“I’m thinking hand pies,” Hancock said.

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Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co. in Tophsam and Penobscot McCrum in Belfast have developed the lobster stuffed potato: two Maine classics in one bite.

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