Lobster Thermidor – Not Your Parents’ Thermidor
I don’t remember that much about the lobster thermidor I ate in culinary school in the early eighties, other than not really being able to taste any lobster. Instead of the nice, light sauce I used here, the meat was hidden in a thick, eggy, cheese sludge, which looked great broiled to a bubbly, golden-brown, but wasn’t the best method if you actually wanted to know you were eating lobster.
Lobster is sort of sweet, and rich tasting to begin with, so covering it in a super heavy sauce never made much sense, which is why I like this approach so much more. Our sauce is just heavy enough to coat the chunks of meat, without hiding it, and while we’re not adding handfuls of cheese, or a bunch of egg yolks, we’re still going to enjoy a fairly decadent dish.
Not only is this great for a fancy dinner party because it looks and tastes great, but you can also do all the prep ahead of time, and then just pop them in the oven when you’re ready for service. If you go that route, they’re going to be much colder, so you’ll probably need to give them a few extra minutes in the oven. Remember, everything is already cooked, so just roast until the meat is heated through.
The classic version is made with a whole, split lobster, which admittedly tastes better, but is a hundred times messier, and harder to do, not to mention probably more expensive. Frozen lobster tails can be surprising affordable, and there isn’t any waste. Either way, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!
Ingredients for 2 large or 4 appetizer size portions:
4 lobster tails (about 4 oz each about)
3 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons minced shallots
salt to taste
1 1/2 cup diced mushrooms
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons cognac or brandy
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons crème fraiche or heavy cream
1 generous tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
cayenne to taste
2 teaspoon dry breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 teaspoons melted butter for the top