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My Favorite Recipe

Erin McMurrer’s Favorite Recipes: New England Fish Chowder and Lobster Rolls

This New England native enjoys the freshest versions of her hometown classics.
By Published Sept. 5, 2022

My Favorite Recipe is a column where we ask America's Test Kitchen cooks, cast members, and luminaries about the recipes they can't stop cooking.

Getting to know my colleagues through their favorite recipes has been a treat. Best of all, when they stop and chat about food, you learn a lot about their history and hometown, too.

Erin McMurrer, director of culinary production for TV and video of America’s Test Kitchen, has had a bird’s eye view on ATK recipes for years. Her longtime love of food is evident in the way she speaks about how simple ingredients make the best dishes.

For Erin, it doesn’t have to be fancy to be done right. 

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Hey Erin, what’s your favorite ATK recipe?

Erin McMurrer: There are so many amazing recipes that we create, it's hard for me to really narrow it down. I have a few. I'm from New England and I worked in a clam shack in my younger years. Fish chowder was always close to my heart. So when Bryan Roof developed the New England Fish Chowder recipe ten years ago or so, it became my go-to. 

The flavors are fabulous: very clean, very pure. The cooking method ensures that your fish is cooked perfectly and in big chunks. My mom is a huge fan of fish chowder as well, and she loves it, too. I make it very often.

New England Fish Chowder
“With the recipes we’ve developed, [we're] so spoiled," says Erin. "We can't eat [them] anywhere else and be totally content."

It’s great to hear about regional New England dishes. Do any others bring up fond memories?

EM: I love lobster rolls. But most lobster rolls out there are not worth it. I like the lobster to be cooked nicely, in big chunks, and not overly coated. Let the lobster shine. 

Andrea Geary developed a perfect New England Lobster Roll recipe for Cook's Illustrated a few years ago, and it's truly amazing. She dissected it and found the best way to cook and clean the lobster. Her coating is very minimal: some mayonnaise, a little bit of celery, some fresh chives, and lemon juice. Lemon juice is a must. Then she toasts the buns with good butter and salt.

The hot and cold combo sounds delicious! Is that what makes this recipe perfect?

EM: I’m glad you picked up on that. The hot and cold temperature contrast is a simple detail that is often overlooked, but it's the final yet very important step to making the perfect lobster roll. The chilled lobster salad plus the thin piece of Bibb lettuce that’s crisp and cold with the hot bun . . . it's just simple and pure.

I don't make it that often because fresh lobster isn’t an ingredient in my weekly repertoire. But when I do, I’m in heaven.