Citizens, your beloved Ruler of Rulers recently enjoyed the light, yet very funny film “The Lego Batman Movie”, where lobster thermidor is prominent in several scenes and is referenced as the Batman’s favorite food.
I need no other reason than that (plus it is near the end of the lobster season!) to share this classic recipe with you, as interpreted by the unmatched maestro of Chefs, Alain Ducasse!
Lobster Thermidor is a French dish traditionally consisting of a creamy mixture of cooked lobster meat, egg yolks, and brandy (often cognac), stuffed into a lobster shell. It can also be served with an oven-browned cheese crust, typically Gruyère.
The sauce must contain mustard (typically powdered mustard). Due to expensive ingredients and extensive preparation involved, Lobster Thermidor is usually considered a recipe primarily for special occasions.
The recipe of Lobster Thermidor was created around 1880 by Auguste Escoffier then working in Maison Maire, a Parisian restaurant near the Théâtre de la Porte-Saint-Martin. In March 1896, a successful reprise of the play Thermidor by Victorien Sardou opened in that theatre.
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 Terror. Mr Paillard (Maison Maire’s owner) changed the name of this recipe after the play gained in popularity.
The master Ducasse has lightened the dish, but preserved the essential elements of one of the great recipes from the Gilded Age – I hope you enjoy it, !
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
- Lobster Sauce:
- 4 female lobsters, 1 pound (500 g) each
- black peppercorns
- dried fennel
- fleur de sel
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil (1 cl)
- Head Filling:
- 1 ¾ ounces oven-dried tomatoes (50 g)
- 1 ounce Meaux mustard (30 g)
- 1 ounce breadcrumbs (30 g)
- 1 ¾ ounces softened butter (50 g)
- 20 tarragon leaves
- 1 ounce grated parmesan (30 g)
- 1 ounce chopped cooked lobster roe, from the lobster (30 g)
- 1 cup lobster jus (20 cl)
- 1 ½ ounces butter (40 g)
- 4 teaspoons olive oil (2 cl)
- the cooked roe from two of the lobster heads
- 5 leaves tarragon, minced
- 1 lemon
- fleur de sel
- ⅓ ounce Meaux mustard (10 g)
- Filling for the Lobster Tail
- 14 ounces button mushrooms
- (400 g)
- 10 ½ ounces baby spinach (300 g)
- 1 tablespoon cream (5 cl)
- 1 bunch watercress
- fleur de sel
- ½ ounce brown butter (15 g)
- Cook the lobsters in salted water flavored with dried fennel and black pepper. Allow 3 minutes’ cooking time for the tails and 5 for the claws. Shell the claws, making sure to remove all cartilage, then shell the tail, being careful to keep the shell whole. Remove the insides from the heads, including the sand sac, and devein.
- Cut away the top part of the heads with a pair of scissors. Split the tails and shells in two lengthwise. Wash the shells in a large amount of water, making sure all the undesirable parts are removed, and dry carefully.
- Mix the softened butter with the chopped oven-dried tomatoes, Parmesan, lobster insides, cooked roe, minced tarragon and Meaux mustard. Place both knuckles in the head, and top with the filling and the breadcrumbs.
- Reduce the lobster jus, add the butter and roe to bind, then add the Meaux mustard. Flavor with chopped tarragon, a drizzle of olive oil and some lemon juice. Season to taste with fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper.
- Wash and separate the spinach leaves. Cut the mushrooms into slices, keeping only the white parts. Wilt these slices in brown butter, then add the spinach leaves. Thicken with a tablespoon of cream, and season with freshly ground pepper and fleur de sel. Separate and wash the watercress.
- Broil the filled lobster head. Fill each of the lobster tail halves with the spinach mixture, then place the half-tails in their shells and top with sauce. Broil to reheat.
- Plate the stuffed head at the top of the plate and arrange the pieces of tail like a fan. Place a drizzle of sauce around the lobster.
- Heat the claws in the sauce, then plate them with the bouquet of watercress. Season with olive oil, fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper to taste.
- This recipe was originally published in “Culinary Encyclopedia by Alain Ducasse” (Éditions Alain Ducasse).
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