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February 03, 2018
FOOD FOR THOUGHT ~ PART ONE: TRADITIONAL [back in the shell] LOBSTER THERMIDOR FOR TWO
by Bob BanfelderIt's February. The Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania groundhog has just declared six more weeks of winter. Our boats are in mothballs. All of Donna's and my rods, reels, and tackle have been thoroughly cleaned and stored for spring—including my hunting equipment. What to do next? Well, as we both like to eat, and eat well, February is a good month to prepare some extraordinary lobster dishes for family and friends. We'll begin with one of our favorites, preparing it for either an appetizer or an entrée. Your guests will flip. Admittedly, the dish is time consuming; however, it is not at all difficult to prepare. Those with a modicum of culinary skill will breeze through this recipe. If you're a beginner, just take your time and prepare this winner the first time out for you and yours. Besides, you are probably not doing anything outdoorsy or going anywhere except to the store for the necessary ingredients.
This is one of the best Lobster Thermidor dishes that I've perfected over a period of many years. You'll be hard-pressed to find a better one. You'll be amazed and thoroughly delighted.
2 1¼ pound [live & kicking] Maine [cold water] lobsters
½ stick butter
¼ cup Marsala wine
¼ cup Savory & James cream sherry
¼ teaspoon mustard
¼ teaspoon nutmeg [preferably grated from whole nutmeg]
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon arrowroot
2 cups heavy cream
¼ teaspoon white pepper
add salt to taste
¼ cup chicken broth
¼ pound baby shrimp
½ cup sliced mushrooms
1 teaspoon Italian bread crumbs
1 teaspoon panko crispy bread crumbs
1 tablespoon fresh chopped Italian parsley
(optional) ¼ cup of white distilled vinegar for an 8-quart pot
Left to Right ~ Tools of the Trade for splitting and/or cracking lobsters: heavy-duty butcher knife, lobster scissors, regular pair of kitchen shears, seafood cracker, lobster/crab fork (pick-tool), ramekin for liver/roe, removed lobster meat, teaspoon, salad fork, optional heavy-duty serrated bread knife (not shown).
Kill lobster (humanely) by inserting the point of a heavy, very sharp butcher knife behind the crustacean's head, pushing and driving the blade downward and toward you as shown below.
Repeat the process upon the second lobster. Now you can plunge the pair into a pot of boiling water or steam them for five (5) minutes. You are not thoroughly cooking the lobsters; you are poaching them. Adding ¼ cup of distilled white vinegar to an 8-quart pot of boiling water will later help separate the meat from the shells.
Remove lobsters from pot and allow the shellfish to cool. Replace the blade of the knife just below its head (opposite you this time) and cleanly split the shell from head to tail.
Open up the lobster and discard the black intestinal vein. Remove the green liver (tomalley) with the teaspoon and/or the red roe with a fork then set aside. Carefully remove the meat from its cavity. Using a pair of heavy-duty kitchen shears, meticulously cut, remove, and discard all cartilage, muscle, and tissue from the cavity (head and tail). Also, set aside.
Split lobster cavity and claws—showing all meat removed.
With the point of the knife positioned perpendicular upon the center of a claw, sharply drive the blade into it. Remove the butcher knife and lay the blade of a serrated knife down upon the cut, carefully cutting across and through the claw, being especially careful not to crack the shell unevenly. Presentation is as appealing as this dish is delightful. Note: If this procedure seems a bit precarious for you, use the seafood cracker tool in lieu of the knife. However, it won't make for as neat a presentation because the uneven break will be discernible. Remove the lobster meat from the pincer and crusher claws with the pick-tool.
Top claw shown with even knife cut; bottom claw shown utilizing the seafood cracker tool in lieu of knife.
Three knuckles connect the body and claw. Cut across each knuckle at the joint with shellfish scissors and remove the meat with the pick-tool. Discard knuckle shells. Rinse cavity and claws thoroughly then set aside for stuffing later.
If you are gifted with patience, you can pick out a minuscule amount of meat from the legs and tail fin (flippers).
Cut all lobster meat into bite-size ½-inch pieces then set aside as shown below.
In a sauté pan, melt ½ stick of butter over a medium heat source.
Raise heat to high; add wine and sherry then flambé; that is, liquor ignited briefly.
Reduce heat back to medium and add mustard, nutmeg, paprika, liver and/or roe, stirring well while adding arrowroot to thicken the mixture.
Gradually add the heavy cream, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth.
Add white pepper and salt to taste.
Add chicken broth, all lobster meat, shrimp, and mushrooms then cook over a low heat for 3 minutes as shown below.
Carefully spoon the contents into the cavity and claws then sprinkle with bread crumb (combined Italian seasoned bread crumbs and panko bread crumbs) mixture.
Garnish with parsley then broil for approximately 3 minutes or until the bread crumbs become golden brown.
1¼ pound stuffed lobster, ready for the broiler.
1¼ pound stuffed lobster, ready for the table.
Lobster sections put back together for a near perfect presentation and to be served with a nice white wine.
You could also cut out the section of walking legs from the body and configure along the platter for a bit of decoration as shown below. Too, you could get a bit carried away and purchase special decorative lobster plates to showcase this fantastic dish. As an appetizer, we serve half a split lobster per guest. To go all out, folks are served a 1¼ pound lobster as the entrée.
Decorative lobster shell arrangement. Your own creativity will enhance the aesthetic quality of this spectacular dish.
Keep in mind that color, presentation, and quality ingredients are the keys to gourmet dishes.
Tomorrow, we will prepare a classic Lobster Newburg dish. Stay tuned.
Award-Winning Crime Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
Recent recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from Who's Who in America
Several of My Crime Fiction Novels Incorporate The Great Outdoors
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