If you’ve been to a seafood tavern or even a steak house that offers some fish and seafood on the side, then you may have had lobster thermidor. It’s a French classic where you boil the lobster, cut in half, remove the lobster meat, chop up and mix into an herbed bechamel with a hint of cheese. Top with breadcrumbs and bake on high heat until the top is golden brown and crisp.
I made this decadent starter as part of my New Year’s Eve menu that also included steak, some mashed potatoes and a salad with a bright citrus salad. Back to the lobster: you want to buy fresh lobster as they have the best flavour. Second, I always buy Canadian lobster, from the Maritime provinces, not just because I’m patriotic but because I like more meat in my lobster.
In Canada, lobsters are not caught in the summer, which is the molting season for lobsters. That means, they shed their shell during the summer and grow a new shell. Canadian lobster trappers will catch their quota for the year and hold them in cold water tanks for sale during the summer months.
In the US, summer lobster trapping is allowed and that means they catch a softer shell lobster. These lobsters are then placed in pens and allowed to grow and harden their shells. Unfortunately, these lobsters are also given antibiotics and the bottom line – you get less meat in your lobster. Not convinced? Buy a Canadian and American lobster of equal size and compare for yourself.
1 lobster (about 1 1/4 lb.), steamed or boiled
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. of minced shallots
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. finely diced carrots
2 Tbsp. finely diced celery
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
1 1/3 cup hot milk
pinch of salt
pinch of ground pepper
1/4 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon
2 tsp. chopped fresh chives
2 Tbsp. grated sharp white cheese (Gruyere)
2 Tbsp. breadcrumbs
1 tsp. sweet paprika
- Cut the lobster lengthwise in half and pull out the tail meat then spoon out the any meat from meat from the thorax (I like using the roe and liver in my mixture). Save the shells for filling. Now tear off the claws and knuckles and crack the shells to extract the meat. Remove the vein from the tail meat and roughly chop all the meat and reserve in a medium bowl.
- Meanwhile, place medium pot on your stovetop over medium heat and add your butter, olive oil and add the shallots, garlic, carrot, celery and sweat for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add the wine, stir in and cook down for a minute. Now slowly add the milk while whisking and continue to stir until you have thick sauce that coats the back of wooden spoon. Add pinch of salt, ground pepper and Old Bay seasoning. Remove from heat and allow to cool 5 minutes. Pre-heat your oven to 500F, place the rack on the upper rack.
- Once cool (warm is ok), add the mustard, tarragon, chives and cheese and lobster meat and stir in. With a spoon, fill the two lobster shells with bechamel/lobster mixture and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and paprika.
- Place the two lobster halves on a baking sheet and into your hot oven and bake for 5-7 minutes or until the tops are golden, just crisp. Remove from the oven and allow to cool 5 minutes.
- Garnish with a lemon wedge, serve with a warm potato salad and and seasonal greens in a citrus dressing. Pair with a Gerovassiliou Malagouzia.
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