Monday, December 29, 2014

Lobster Thermidor

     Lobster Thermidor  
     I did not post a bunch of Christmas holiday season recipes this year, but I am posting a few New Years Eve favorites this week.  Two popular New Years Eve dinner entree choices are lobster and filet mignon.  Chateaubriand for two is a great choice for couples.  Crab stuffed lobster is probably the most popular lobster recipe for New Years Eve.  Many years ago in fine dining restaurants, lobster thermidor was the top choice for a New Years Eve lobster dinner.

     I purchased a large 3 1/2 pound Maine lobster at the 99 Ranch Market in Chinatown, Las Vegas for $10 a pound.  $10 a pound is about half of what standard grocery stores charge for Maine lobster during New Years week, so this big bug was a good bargain!  The reason why the price was realistic is because Chinese New Year is celebrated a few weeks later.  Closer to Chinese New Year, the price of lobster at Asian markets may peak due to demand.
     Lobster Thermidor was the top choice for season's classic New Years Eve lobster recipe.  During my entire culinary arts career, I have only worked with two chefs that offered an authentic Lobster Thermidor and it was only offered as a New Years Eve special du jour.

     Lobster Thermidor was created in 1894 at Maire's of Paris in honor of the premier night of the play Thermidor.  Thermidor was written by the great dramatist Victorien Sardou.  An opening night for a play was a major event back in those days.  When a chef dedicated an entree creation in respect for a great play, the entree creation had to be great enough to receive top billing.
     Lobster Thermidor is a recipe that accents the great flavor of lobster.  The lobster is split and roasted, then the meat is removed and diced into large pieces.  Sauce Bercy is modified with mustard, white wine and cream and this sauce compliments the flavor of lobster in a delicate way.
     Mushrooms can be part of Lobster Thermidor and they are usually infused with sauce before straining.  Tarragon and chervil also flavor the sauce.  After simmering, the the sauce and lobster ingredients are returned to the lobster shell.  Gruyere cheese is sprinkled over the Lobster Thermidor and then it is baked, till the cheese and sauce become melted and bubbly.  The aroma, flavor and eye appeal of Lobster Thermidor makes this entree fit for a special night like New Years Eve!

     Glacé Viande:
     Follow this link to the Glacé Viande recipe.  
     • Glacé Viande 
     *The yield of this entire Thermidor Recipe is 1 hearty entrée!
     Lobster Preparation:
     A 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 pound lobster is enough for one serving.  A 3 to 4 pound lobster may be enough for two people, but not always.  Tail meat tends to not fill the shell of Maine lobsters that are over 2 pounds.  Maine lobster has the best lobster flavor and it actually is the only true lobster species.  
     Spiny Lobster is what was used to make the original French Thermidor recipe.  Spiny Lobster nearly always has more tail meat than a Maine Lobster.  Live Spiny Lobster are not easy to find in American food markets outside of the Southeast Coastal Fishery area.  
     Here in Las Vegas, a big Maine Lobster Farm business operates in this city, because the demand for fresh lobster is so high.  A few years ago, the State Of Maine had a bad lobster season.  Tens of thousands of Las Vegas Maine Lobster were air freighted to Maine, in order to save the tourism industry in that state.  Las Vegas Farm Raised Lobster Farming is a high tech industry and the quality of the local lobsters is superb, as one can see in the photo above.  Las Vegas Maine Lobsters are lively and healthy.  
     Step 1:  Insert a chef knife vertically through the head and split the head in half lengthwise.  This will instantly and mercifully kill the lobster, by cutting its brain in half.
     Use the chef knife the split the entire lobster in half lengthwise.  Try not to damage the shell.
     Remove the claws.
     *The claws can be cracked and the meat can be used for this Thermidor or the claws can be saved for another recipe.  I saved the lobster claws for making a gourmet Lobster Mousseline Hot Dog, which was used to make a really nice Lobster Corn Dog!  The Gourmet Street Style Food trend is popular in Las Vegas.   
     Step 2:  Place the split lobster halves on a roasting pan with the meat facing upward.
     Sprinkle 1 1/2 ounces of dry white wine over the lobster.
     Drizzle a little bit of melted unsalted butter over the lobster.
     Season with sea salt and white pepper.
     Roast the lobster in a 350º oven, till the meat is almost fully cooked.  The meat should still be moist.
     Remove the lobster from the oven and let it cool.
     Step 3:  Remove the meat from the lobster.
     Cut the lobster meat into large bite size diced chunks and set them aside.
     Remove the legs, gills, liver and coral from the lobster shell, so the shell is bare and clean.  The head shell and tail shell must remain attached together and unbroken for this recipe, or the sauce will leak out of the shell!  Use both halves of the shell for a full portion or one shell half for a smaller portion.
     *It is best to make the roux first for the Thermidor recipe!
     White Roux:
     Heat a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1 1/2 ounces of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while constantly whisking to make a roux.
     Whisk until the flour and butter are combined and the color of the roux becomes white.
     Remove the pot from the heat and transfer the roux into a ceramic or stainless steal container.
     Thermidor Sauce:
     Thermidor Sauce is a variation of Sauce Bercy for seafood.  A small amount of Meat Glaze, Mushroom and Dijon Mustard enrich the Sauce Bercy.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced shallot.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped mushroom peelings.
     Gently sauté and sweat the mixture, till the shallots turn clear in color.
     Step 2:  Add 1 cup of light whitefish stock.  (Fumet)
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of Glacé Viande.
     Add 1 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of dijon mustard.
     Step 3:  Raise the temperature to medium heat.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Add just enough of the white roux to the sauce, while whisking, to thicken the sauce to a medium thick consistency.  (Save any excess roux for another recipe.)
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Slowly add 1 cup of cream while stirring.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of tarragon.
     Add 1 pinch of chervil.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a medium thin consistency.
     Step 5:  Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.
     Set the sauce aside and keep it warm on a stove top.

     Lobster Thermidor:
     Step 1:  Place the large diced lobster meat chunks into a mixing bowl.
     Add enough of the Thermidor sauce to generously coat the lobster with plenty of sauce.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Place 1 lobster shell half (or both lobster shell halves) on a roasting pan.  (If the lobster shells do not sit evenly, than place a bed of rock salt on the pan.)
     Spoon the Lobster Thermidor into the lobster shell.
     Spoon a few extra tablespoons of the Thermidor Sauce over lobster meat chunks.  (Any extra Thermidor Sauce can be saved for another recipe.)
     Sprinkle a small amount of finely grated Gruyere Gheese over the Thermidor.  (About 1/2 tablespoon to 1 tablespoon.)
     Step 3:  Roast the Thermidor in a 425ºF oven, till light golden brown highlights appear on the cheese and sauce.  The sauce should be bubbling by this time.
     Lobster Thermidor Presentation:
     Remove the lobster from the oven.
     Use a long spatula and tongs to carefully place the Lobster Thermidor on a plate.
     Serve with vegetables of your choice.
     *Buttered French Cut Green Beans, Petite Portobello Mushroom Half Slices and Buttered Tournée Potatoes are pictured in the presentation above. 
     Garnish with Italian Parsley sprigs.

     This is as good as a Lobster Thermidor gets!  Lobster Thermidor is well worth the effort for a special occasion like New Years Eve!

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