Lobster Thermidor is a traditionally French recipe, New England has created its own classic lobster thermidor recipe using fresh local live lobster.
My great love of Maine and all that it has to offer has taught me many lessons. However, there is one in particular that I am especially grateful for, and that is how to cook Maine lobster.
I was quite surprised to learn that once I knew how to cook lobster, there were dozens of wonderful lobster recipes that I would be able to prepare right in my own kitchen. It was not just a simple lobster roll or lobster salad that awaited me, but my new found skills would allow me to create much more elegant dishes, such as this rich classic Lobster Thermidor recipe.
Short History of Lobster Thermidor
These is some debate over the origins as well as the ingredients of Lobster Thermidor, a classic French dish. Some historians believe Lobster Thermidor was first introduced in 1894 by Marie’s, a popular Paris restaurant. The Lobster Thermidor recipe was created for the premiere of ‘Thermidor’, a play by Victorien Sardou. The play takes it name for one of the months of the Fresh republican calendar, known as the month of heat (July 19th- August 17th). Another story credits the dish to Chef Tony Girod at Café de Paris, also in Paris. Others believe it was named by Napoleon when he tasted it in the month of Thermidor. Here is our New England version of this luxurious lobster dish.
Classic Lobster Thermidor Recipe
Meat from fresh cooked lobster, or cooked frozen lobster tails, either works well for this recipe.
Preparation time: 45 minutes (includes casserole baking time)
Lobster Thermidor Ingredients:
- 2 cooked lobster tails, meat coarsely chopped. Save shells for use when baking.
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 3/4 cup light cream or half and half
- 1/4 cup dry sherry or white wine
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 tsp tarragon
- 1 tsp fresh chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup diced leeks (white part)
- 1/4 cup minced red pepper
- 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (white)
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (ideally freshly grated)
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
Note… For a thicker sauce, use less half and half and less sherry or white wine.
1. Saute mushrooms and red pepper in olive oil. Set aside.
2. Melt butter, add leeks and garlic. Cook 1-2 minutes. Stir in flour to create roux. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
3. Stir in wine and then slowly add cream – stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat.
4. Add lemon juice, parsley and tarragon.
5. Add cheddar, and whisk until cheese has melted. Salt and pepper to taste.
6. Stir in sauteed mushrooms, red peppers and lobster.
7. Place empty lobster tail shells in a casserole dish. Fill shells with mixture and sprinkle with Parmesan and paprika.
8. Bake 10-12 minutes in a preheated 425 degree oven.
Note… When the Lobster Thermidor is made according to this recipe it will run outside of the lobster shells. The shells are meant for decoration, not as a means to contain the sauce.
Although this dish can be served in its large baking casserole, I prefer to present it in individual, serving size casserole dishes, with a shell as garnish. Or serve Thermidore over puff pastry in individual portions.
This is a very rich recipe. Therefore, I would keep side dishes simple, perhaps serving a green salad as an accompaniment.
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