Today I thought I would share with you a very special recipe, something you would want to cook for a special occasion maybe like a birthday? an anniversary? Valentine’s Day? I have personally cooked this for our Christmas dinner on the 24th and it was one of my best dishes ever!
So what is she on about??? I am talking about lobster thermidor.
I would keep lobster thermidor for special occasions because this is a delicious but expensive treat and because although the recipe is really easy it will steal a bit of your time. Make sure you do not “try” too much the Cognac/French brandy whilst making the sauce you would not appreciate as much the end result :-)
This is originally a French dish but I have to admit that the first time I ate this dish it was in an American restaurant in the UK… good food knows no frontiers!
As per Wikipedia: “Lobster Thermidor was created in 1894 by Marie’s, a Parisian restaurant near the theatre Comedie Francaise, to honour the opening of the play Thermidor by Victorien Sardou. The play took its name from a summer month in the French Republican Calendar, during which the Thermidorian Reaction occurred, overthrowing Robespierre and ending the Reign of Terrror.”
Lobster thermidor is a creamy and indulgent dish for which you mix the glorious cooked flesh of the lobster with a scrumptious sauce before putting everything back in the lobster shell and serving. Side-wise, it works wonderfully with plain skinny French fries. Yes, my dad did frown of disapproval when I initially told him that I was going to serve French fries as a side for our Christmas dinner… however when dinner was served and he enjoyed the all thing, the frowning was long forgotten and replaced by a huge smile :-)
I purchased my lobsters cooked from the fishmonger however if you have a big stockpot and feel really brave like Julie Powel in Julie & Julia, go for live lobsters! My top tips when buying lobsters would be the bigger the claws the better (the meat in it is sooo tender) and ideally you would want to go for an average size lobster around 750 grams (bigger the meat might be less tender/harder to cook evenly and smaller it will be too fiddly to get the meat out of the claws). All in all having a great fishmonger is great when making such purchases and I am very sad that my local fishmonger closed down.
This recipe is an adaptation of a recipe I found in a great cook book my neighbour lent me for the occasion: The Billingsgate Market Cookbook. It will serve two adults as a main or four adults as a starter.
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Lobster Thermidor is a creamy and indulgent dish for which you mix the glorious cooked flesh of the lobster with a scrumptious sauce before putting everything back in the lobster shell and serving.
- 2 cooked lobster about 750g
- 100 g butter
- 4 small shallots finely chopped
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 4 tbsp French brandy
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 2 tbsp French Dijon mustard
- 200 ml dry white wine
- 300 ml seafood stock
- 12 to 16 tbsp crème fraiche
- 2 tbsp chopped tarragon
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Split the cooked lobsters open (lengthwise). Remove the stomach sac and the digestive tract. Lift the meat from the tail end, cut into ½ centimetre dices and reserve in a bowl. Reserve the tail end shell for cooking.
Separate the claws from the body by twisting them whilst pulling. Crack the claws open and remove the meat from the claws. I found the tip of a teaspoon quite useful when removing the meat from the claws. Cut the claws meat into ½ centimetre dices and add to the bowl.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the shallots and cayenne pepper and stir over a low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Heat and ignite the French brandy and add to the shallots when the flames have died down. Stir in the flour and mustard. Cook over a low heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Blend in the wine and stock, bring to the boil, stirring continuously. You want to reduce the mixture by half. Whisk in the crème fraiche and herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer until the mixture has the consistency of a sauce.
Pour some sauce in the bowl with the reserved diced lobster meat. Be careful not to pour too much sauce. You only want to coat the meat. You will have sauce leftover for serving.
Arrange the lobster meat back in the tail end shells and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Bake in the oven for 7-10 minutes or until hot and bubbling ad the cheese has brown. Serve very hot. Enjoy!
Oh I love lobster thermidor although I’ve only eaten it twice in my life.
The first occasion was in a slightly snooty French restaurant in Shepherds Bush where my husband and I ordered a rose wine and ended up with a pink champagne costing over £40 (it could have been worse!!) and were too embarrassed to say to the staff that’s not what we asked for. It went extremely well with the lobster ;-)
I love that clip from Julie & Julia. High time I watched that movie again I think.
Pink champagne… how nice!!! I haven’t had this for ages.
I only had this dish twice in my life too :-) Once at the American restaurant and once last Christmas… it was really nice at the restaurant but it was amazing home-made, which is why I felt I had to be shared :-)
I haven’t had lobster thermidor for years, it is so delicious and would actually make a lovely dish for Valentines night, thanks for the reminder!
Aaah, lobster thermidor… dish of my childhood dreams! We used to go to a very old-school classic French/Italian restaurant when I was a kid and my parents used to order this. I always dreamed of being grown-up enough to enjoy it myself! GOod tip about the larger claws – nothing more frustrating that being unable to access the meat inside teensy claws!
Looks great – I imagined it was a faff to make but it doesn’t sound too fiddly.