Lobster Thermidor from the Jersey Shore
Lobster Thermidor from the Jersey Shore

Lobster Thermidor from the Jersey Shore

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This classic entrée features chopped lobster tail meat, combined with sauce and other ingredients – here, a trio of flavorful mushrooms – that are traditionally spooned back into the empty lobster shell. It dates back fifty-plus years on the Knife and Fork Inn (Atlantic City) menu, where it remains because it represents an era and style that the restaurant holds dear.

EQUIPMENT: 12 Qt. Stockpot with Steamer Basket, Chef’s Knife, large Sauté Pan or Gourmet Skillet,

INGREDIENTS

  • 1   2 pound freshly caught lobster
  • 1   ounce shallots, minced (about 2 small shallots)
  • 1   ounce garlic, minced (about 6 garlic cloves)
  • ¼   cup leeks, diced (about ¼ leek)
  • 1   ounce cremini mushrooms, sliced (about 3/8 cup)
  • 1   ounce shitake mushrooms, sliced (about 3/8 cup)
  • 1   ounce Portobello mushrooms, sliced (about 3/8 cup)
  • 2   tablespoons butter
  • 2   fluid ounces sherry
  • 1   tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1   tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
  • 1¼ cup heavy cream
  • Salt and White Pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons Béarnaise sauce

PREPARATION:

Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Prepare a bowl of ice water; set aside. Prepare a bowl of ice water; set aside. Add lobster to stockpot, cover (open the vent), and cook for 2 minutes. (This will not fully cook the lobster, but it will allow you to remove the meat from the shell.) Immediately plunge the lobster into ice water to stop cooking.

When the lobster is cool, twist claw to remove from body. With the back of a chef’s knife or meat tenderizer, split the carapace (the hard upper shell) along the top from head to tail. Be careful not to split the shell completely, because it will be the serving vessel.

Remove tail meat from shell and clean body shell as much as you want to. (Some people prefer to leave the roe and tomalley – the red eggs and soft green paste.) Carefully crack the claws and knuckle to remove the meat. Cut meat into bite-size pieces and set aside.

In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, sauté shallots, garlic, leeks, and mushrooms in butter until sauce thickens slightly. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until vegetables have softened. Add sherry to deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape bits from the bottom of the pan. Add mustard, tarragon and cream. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Cook until sauce reduces and thickens slightly.

Add lobster meat to sauce and continue to simmer for 2 minutes.

Spread open lobster shell and place lobster mixture in cavity. Top with béarnaise sauce, and serve.

From the Jersey Shore Cookbook by Deborah Smith page 134-135

One means of preparing Béarnaise, is to start with Hollandaise and add the other ingredients. In appearance, it is light yellow and opaque, smooth and creamy. Béarnaise sauce is a made of clarified butter emulsified in egg yolks and white wine vinegar and flavored with herbs. It is considered to be a "child" of the mother Hollandaise sauce. The difference is only in the flavoring: Béarnaise uses shallot, chervil, peppercorns, and tarragon in a reduction of vinegar and/or wine, while Hollandaise is more stripped down, using a reduction of lemon juice or white wine or vinegar.