One of the ultimate all time classic recipes, There's a great skill involved in cooking this recipe correctly, I've seen Lobster Thermidor cooked absolutely terribly!! No love, No pride, No respect for Ingredients. Thick gloopy bechamel sauce, ladled over the poor over cooked lobster, smothered in cheese and chucked under a grill, to be cooked to within an inch of it's dear life!!!
This is a wonderful dinner party dish, Lobster is expensive, treat it with love and care, and i promise you'll find this recipe delicious.
This recipe, in my opinion, is about the sauce, or, bisque, that is made to maximize flavour into the finished Thermidor sauce.
Of course, the freshness, and the cooking of the lobster goes without question, Generally, as a rule i only buy lobsters to arrive on the day that i need them, live obviously, and usually best between June to September.
Just a thought...........
For all of you young catering students out there, invest in a copy of Le Repertoire de la Cuisine, keep it close to hand, open it, read it, learn from it, remember it, reread it, keep it as a guidance and reference, Classics are just that, Classics, styles of techniques we may lose forever, but should be an integral part of a chefs education
This recipe will serve 4 people
4 Whole cooked lobsters
For the Mornay sauce
250ml of whole milk
1 small onion, peeled and cut into quarters
2 bay leaves
40g of butter
40g of plain flour
150g of mature cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons of English mustard
2 egg yolks
100ml of soft whipped whipping cream
For the lobster bisque
100g of butter
The lobster shells from the claws and knuckles
300ml of brandy
2 carrots peeled and chopped
2 bulbs of fennel chopped
2 small onions peeled and chopped
A tablespoon of tomato puree
100ml of dry white wine
30g of plain flour
1 ltr of good quality chicken stock
4 crushed garlic cloves
4 star anise
2 crushed lemon grass stalks
A small bunch of tarragon
Firstly we need to make the Mornay sauce
In a small saucepan, put the milk, onion, bay leaves and cloves, bring to a slow boil, simmer for 5 minutes.
In a separate pan, melt the butter on a medium heat, then stir in the flour, stir with a wooden spoon until you have a nice smooth paste.
Pass the milk mixture through a sieve and discard the onion, bay leaves and cloves
Add the milk to the paste and whisk to remove any lumps, continue to cook on a medium heat for 4 minutes.
Remove from the heat, stir in the cheese, mustard and season to taste.
Stir in the egg yolks, cover, and set to one side.
Now prepare the lobsters
Carefully cut each lobster in half
Remove the legs
Remove the knuckles and claws
Carefully lift out the tail meat and cut each into 4 pieces
Crack the claws and remove the meat, and do the same with the knuckles
Place the meat onto a plate and keep refridgerated
To make the bisque
Add 50g of butter to a large pan
Place on a high heat and add the claw and knuckle shells
Cook until they caramelize slightly
Add half of the brandy, make sure you flame to burn off the alcohol, and reduce by half
Add the remaining butter and brandy, reduce the heat and add the carrot, onion and fennel
Cook for 5 minutes
Stir in the tomato puree
Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes
Now stir in the flour and add the stock
Add in the garlic, lemon grass and star anise, bring to a slow simmer, DO NOT BOIL, occasionally skim off any skum from the surface, simmer for 40 minutes
Remove from the heat and add the tarragon
Leave to stand for 10 minutes, now strain the bisque, return the bisque liquid to the heat and reduce by half and allow to cool
Pre heat the oven to 190c
In a bowl add 100g of the mornay sauce and fold in gently the whipped cream, now carefully add 100ml of lobster bisque and 2 finely chopped tarragon sprigs
Place the empty lobster shells onto a baking sheet, carefully place the cut lobster tails back into the shells, red side up, and fill the head sections with the claw and knuckle meat
Brush lightly with a little melted butter
Cover the lobster in a piece of tin foil and place in the oven for 4 minutes
Remove from the oven
Remove the foil from the lobster HEADS only
Spoon over the Lobster Mornay sauce
Pre heat the grill
Brown under the grill
Remove from the grill and discard the foil
Serve immediately with a dressed salad and potatoes of your choice