Many years back while traveling in the city of London, we visited a very nice restaurant and had a delicious Lobster Thermidor. We had inquired with the server at that time about getting the recipe. They did not provide the recipe, but provided a listing of the main ingredients. We were not able to duplicate that recipe with success, so it was our mission to find something equally as good or better and ‘tried and true’ for the recipe box.
After several tries, we finally found a delicious lobster thermidor recipe1 that has been made several times and is classified in our recipe box as ‘tried and true’. The bonus factor is the leftover sauce makes an excellent base for a creamy lobster (or crab) soup/bisque. If you wish to make a creamy lobster soup for another night, just add a little more milk to the base and some additional lobster meat when ready to make. The lobster is combined with a béchamel sauce, beautifully choreographed with wine, broth, shallots, green onions, tarragon and mustard. The mixture is placed back into the lobster shell, topped with parmesan cheese, and broiled to brown.
We paired this creamy lobster thermidor with the Lynmar Estate Quail Hill Vineyard 2013 Chardonnay. This Chardonnay, aged 14 months in French oak barrels, presents a pale gold color in the glass. This creamy, buttery and very smooth chardonnay was a great pairing. The beautiful-bodied and nicely balanced chardonnay was perfectly capable of standing up to the creamy tarragon lobster thermidor. The wine was perfectly balanced and has a luscious finish on the palette. We happened to pick this bottle up after our first visit to Lynmar Estate Winery last year, which proved to be a wonderful wine tasting experience.
We chose a lighter, complementary side to the creamy thermidor serving roasted asparagus sprinkled with salt, pepper, olive oil and parmesan cheese. In prior dinners, we also served this recipe with twice-baked potato, which is a much heavier side than the asparagus. We could not resist making our favorite other ‘tried and true’ recipe, which was the Cream Cheese Pecan Pie from Cooking with Paul Deen, November 2014.
These recipes make for a wonderful and elegant smaller dinner party or a special occasion for two. As always, we dressed up the table for this elegant dinner for two with our favorite linens.
- 2 live Maine lobsters (about 2 pounds each)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2/3 cup white wine (we used a dry white – we used from one of our favorite table wines)
- 2/3 cup seafood stock (we used Imagine Brand Seafood Stock; Fish Stock should also be fine)
- 1 Tablespoon chopped shallot
- 1 Tablespoon chopped green onion
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 cup sauce béchamel (see recipe below)
- ¾ cup heavy cream, mixed with 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- Grated or shredded parmesan cheese
- Melted butter
Steam and Remove the Lobster Meat (this can be done a day in advance)
- We chose to boil the live Maine lobsters, rather than bake them.
- Add approximately 2 inches of water into a large steamer and add salt. Choose a pot large enough to hold each lobster comfortably. Bring to a boil.
- Remove (cut) the rubber bands off the lobster claws, if the seafood supplier used the bands.
- Open the lid to the steamer and in one swift motion grab the lobster by the back and put it headfirst into the steamer and put the lid on the steamer. Steam for about 13 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the lobsters as they will continue to cook in later steps of the recipe.
- Remove the lobster from the steamer and place into ice water to stop the cooking.
- Repeat steps 1-5 above for the second lobster.
- Meanwhile, put the lobsters on a cutting board. After both lobsters are cool enough to handle, lay each lobster on its’ back. Twist off the main large legs/claws, crack them, then remove the meat. Snip off the smaller legs and discard them. We only used the meat in the tail and in the large main claws. Snip the ‘ribs’ on the tail with kitchen shears all the way up on both side so you can pull the membrane back and remove. You can then remove tail meat. Cut/dice all lobster meat into bite-sized chunks. Discard any remaining lobster innards/waste, then rinse, clean and dry shells. Keep the shells nicely in-tact and save for later use as the presentation dish for the lobster thermidor.
Prepare the Sauce
- Combine the wine, broth, shallots, green onion, and tarragon in a shallow pan (frying pan). Cook until it is reduced to practically a glaze. Add this to the béchamel sauce and stir in the cream mixed with the egg yolks. Allow this to heat without boiling. Add the mustard and taste for seasoning (i.e. salt). When it is well thickened, add the lobster meat and heat through. You may want to put aside a few pieces of lobster for the leftover sauce to make a lobster ‘bisque’ for another day. First, you will want to ensure there is enough lobster meat to fill the shell. You can always buy crab or extra lobster meat later to add to any leftover sauce.
Fill the lobster shells with this mixture, sprinkle with the grated parmesan cheese, brush with melted butter and brown in a 375-degree Fahrenheit oven. We usually always have leftover sauce. Only use enough sauce to neatly place inside shell and bake and then pour some on top prior to presentation. Use the remaining sauce for a creamy lobster or crab ‘bisque’ later. We had the creamy lobster soup with a nice salad the next day for dinner.
Basic Béchamel Sauce
Béchamel is a basic French white sauce made with butter, flour, milk, and often broth.
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 3 Tablespoons flour
- ½ cup seafood stock (we used Imagine Brand Seafood Stock; Fish Stock should also be fine)
- 1 cup milk
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Melt the butter, add the flour, and cook on stove in a medium sized sauce pan until slightly colored. Add the seafood stock and stir until smooth. Gradually add milk and continue stirring until nicely thickened. Cook 5 minutes and season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Yields about 1 cup.
We love roasted vegetables and use the same recipe below for substituting other vegetables. For example, the below can be used for asparagus, Brussel sprouts, green beans, etc..
- Olive oil
- Good quality shredded or grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Wash the asparagus and cut off the bottom ends (we cut off around two inches)
- Using a small baking / roasting pan, lay the asparagus flat in the pan and sprinkle (to your liking) with salt and pepper.
- Going back and forth from one end of the pan to another, slightly pour olive oil on the vegetables – enough to reasonably cover, but do not drench. Give it a nice coating.
- Sprinkle shredded cheese across the asparagus and place in oven
- Cook for about 10-15 minutes until asparagus are slightly tender, but not overcooked. Asparagus can be very easily overcooked.
1 The Lobster Thermidor Recipe was derived from James Beard’s New Fish Cookery by James Beard (Little Brown), for About.com. The dish is originally credited to Chef Tony Girod at Café de Paris, France. We have made additional modifications to this recipe to get it to our desired tastes and methods used (for example steaming the live Maine lobsters rather than baking them).
2 The Cream Cheese Pecan Pie recipe was delicious and you can substitute a dessert of your choice. We used the recipe from Cooking with Paul Deen Magazine, November 2014 Edition. We made the Buttery Pie Crust and Cream Cheese Pecan Pie recipes. We’ve provided a link to the recipe, including the crust. http://www.pauladeenmagazine.com/cream-cheese-pecan-pie-recipe/
Linens featured in this article are from Beautiful Linens™ at https://www.BeautifulLinens.com