Lobster Thermidor is a lobster tail preparation that originated in Europe but was popularized in the US in the mid-20th century. Perhaps the most prominent reference to Lobster Thermidor is in the movie Citizen Kane; while never shown is it used as an example of early 20th century Northeastern haute cuisine.
While present in older American cookbooks the Lobster Thermidor preparation is no longer widely known. The preparation is related to Lobster Newberg, another recipe involving the preparation of lobster tail commonly presented in older Northeastern themed cookbooks.
Lobster Thermidor is a dish created by stuffing an empty lobster tail with sautéed lobster meat that is cooked with butter a light wine (often sherry) and cream. The resulting sauce is stuffed into a lobster shell then topped with either a cheese, mushrooms or combination of vegetables before being placed under an open flame or broiled.
- 1/2 lb lobster (225g) meat, preferably from the tail.
- 1 cleaned lobster tail shell
- 3 tablespoons of butter or margarine
- 1 cup (240ml) of heavy cream
- 2 eggs yolks separated
- 1/2 cup (120ml) of sherry or brandy
- 1/2 cup (120g) of grated gruyere or mozzarella cheese
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Note: Cooking and shelling a fresh lobster can be a time consuming process, hence frozen or pre-shelled tail meat is often used as a substitute.
Optional: Preparing a fresh lobster
Note: Lobsters are live animals that can be commonly purchased in most large American grocery stores.
- Bring 12 cups of water to a boil in a pan that is large enough to accommodate the entire lobster.
- Stick a sharp knife in the head of the lobster from the top down, and make a quick 'lever' movement downwards with the knife until it is completely through. This kills the lobster almost instantly.
- Add the lobster to the boiling water and cook until it turns a bright red.
- Remove and Let Cool,
- Carefully Slice the Tail along the midsection and remove the cooked tail meat, do not discard the shell.
Additional Notes: There are other parts of the lobster that can also be eaten, but tail meat is particularly prized for its unique texture.
Preparing the Filling
- In a serving bowl, mix together egg yolks and cream then set aside for later use.
- In a pan large enough to accommodate the lobster meat and cream, warm the butter or margarine at a low temperature until it melts.
- Add the cooked lobster meat and wine to the butter/margarine then sauté at a medium high heat for about 2-3 minutes, or until the meat is warmed through and the wine has been mostly absorbed.
- Slowly add the cream and egg mixture, stirring all the time to ensure that the sauce is evenly mixed.
- When the sauce has thickened remove from heat.
- Set oven to broil or prepare an open flame.
- Carefully stuff the empty Lobster Tail with the filling.
- Top with the grated cheese, salt and pepper.
- Place the Shell underneath the open flame and broil for 3-8 minutes, or until the cheese melts and turns a golden brown.
- Remove the lobster Thermidor from the oven and serve on a warmed plate with garnish and appropriate accompaniments.
While the base preparation of Lobster Thermidor often remains the same, the type of wine or cheese used, or the way that the lobster is cooked differs.
Some preparations include utilizing the broth generated from cooking to the lobster with carrots, celery, tarragon and wine as an additional ingredient to thicken the sauce of cream and sherry.
- "Citizen Kane". http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/citizenkane.html. Retrieved December 2011.