Because Tuesday is Lobster Thermidor Day, of course. What do you have on Tuesdays, meatloaf?
I was spared from having to commit lobster murder by the frozen seafood section of the Superstore, where good-sized lobster tails can be had for $8.99. I like to think I took that shortcut because at 5pm I found myself chatting to a friend beside the lobster tank, it was rush hour on icy roads and Mike had to go out at 6:30.
I think in reality it had more to do with my not being too keen on the killing and dismembering part; of, as Julia put it, knowing they’re done when “the long head-feelers can be pulled from the sockets fairly easily”. Less appealing were her directions to “discard sand sacks in the heads, and the intestinal tubes. Rub lobster coral and green matter through a fine sieve into the mixing bowl, and blend into it the mustard, egg yolks, cream, and pepper.”
Julia, I adore you. I really do. You make food approachable to the masses on TV, but some of these recipes are altogether more involved than they need to be. (Case in point: strain your boeuf bourguignon to simmer and reduce the sauce, wash out the dish it was braised in, then return the beef and sauce to the dish.) Cooking your way through MtheAofFC seems far huger a prospect once you’ve read through a few of the recipes.
Besides the frozen tails vs. live lobsters cheat, I weedwhacked the recipe quite a bit. Guys, I got home from the grocery store at 5:30 and had lobster Thermidor on the table by the 6 o’clock news. Not to blow my own horn, but I’d be a pretty hot commodity if I were a 50′s housewife.
I’d show you her original recipe, just to compare, but it’s Copyright © 1961, 1983, 2001 by Alfred A. Knopf. Trust me when I tell you it has a lot of steps, and uses a lot of pans. This is what I did:
In a large pot, I brought about a cup of water and a cup of white wine to a boil with a chopped stalk of celery and a sprig of parsley. Added the still partially frozen lobster tails, covered and simmered until they were bright red and cooked through. Set them aside to cool a bit, then pulled off the underside of the tail, removed the meat and chopped it.
At the same time, I sautéed a cup or two of sliced mushrooms in a drizzle of oil and blob of butter – and a squirt of lemon juice, as per Julia’s instructions – I didn’t dismiss her recipe entirely. When they were turning golden on their edges, I sprinkled over a couple tablespoons of flour, then poured the cooking liquid from the lobster pot through a sieve straight into the mushroom pan and brought it to a simmer. It thickened nicely, and I added about a quarter cup of half & half (ditched the egg yolks and heavy cream, and didn’t miss it) and simmered it into a rich sauce with the consistency of thin custard.
I took the pan off the heat, stirred in the chopped lobster meat and like a twice-baked potato, loaded it back into the empty tail shells. Then I grated some Parmesan over them and ran them under the broiler (she instructed to bake them at 425F, but I was afraid of overcooking the lobster – plus I was hungry).
That was it.
Now, it’s entirely possible that Julia Child’s version would blow this one out of the water. But it was pretty damn tasty, especially in exchange for under a half hour’s work, including navigating the recipe. It was lobster Thermidor in the same time it takes to make Hamburger Helper.
And right now, as I type this, we’re watching the movie. Which makes me want to sauté fish in butter until it’s crispy and then make a raspberry Bavarian cream for dessert.
One Year Ago: Fleur de Sel Caramels
December 08 2009 11:27 pm | seafood