Classic Lobster Thermidor Recipe

Lobster Thermidor
Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images
  • 50 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: 2 lobsters (4 servings)
Ratings (22)

What is there to say about lobster Thermidor? It's one of those classic recipes that is a showstopper on a special occasion.

This recipe will work with either a New England or spiny lobster. Try to get the fresh tarragon for this recipe even though it can be hard to find. It makes a huge impact, as does the sherry.

What You'll Need

  • For the Lobster:
  • 2 lobsters
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • For the Béchamel Sauce:
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour (all-purpose)
  • 1/2 cup stock (lobster, fish or chicken)
  • 1 cup milk
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • For the Thermidor:
  • 2/3 cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons sherry (dry)
  • 1 cup stock (lobster, fish or chicken)
  • 2 to 3 shallots (finely chopped)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons tarragon (fresh, chopped)
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • Garnish: sweet or hot paprika

How to Make It

Prepare the Lobster

  1. Heat oven to 400 F.
  2. With a sharp chef's knife, split the live lobster in half lengthwise. Start with the head side and work the knife back toward the tail. Starting with the head end kills the lobster instantly.
  3. Brush the lobster with olive oil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

Make the Béchamel Sauce

  1. In a small skillet or saucepan, make a roux by melting the butter and adding the flour. Cook until it is blond, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  1. Add 1/2 cup stock and stir well to combine. Let this come to a simmer, then slowly add the milk, stirring continuously.
  2. Let this come to a simmer, then add some salt and pepper to taste, then the nutmeg. It's very important to not let this boil. Reserve.

Make the Thermidor

  1. Remove the lobster from the oven and let it cool. Then remove all the meat (don't forget the meat in the body) and chop coarsely.
  2. In a small frying pan, add the wine, sherry, 1 cup lobster stock, shallots, and the tarragon and boil it down until it is thick, almost a glaze.
  3. Add this glaze to the béchamel sauce and stir well to combine.
  4. Mix the cream with the egg yolks, then slowly add some of the béchamel-glaze mixture to the cream, stirring constantly. When you get about 1/2 cup of the hot mixture into the cream, pour it all back into the rest of the béchamel-glaze mixture. What you are doing here is tempering the cream-egg mixture so you don't get scrambled eggs in your sauce. Again, do not let this boil.
  5. Add the dry mustard and some salt to taste. Cook until the sauce is thickened, then add the lobster and mix well.
  6. Traditionally, you fill the empty lobster shells with this mixture and brown in a 375 F oven for a few minutes. You can, of course, eat the Thermidor outside of the shells in little bowls or over egg noodles. In either case, sprinkle a little paprika over the top when you serve for garnish.

Note: This dish is excellent with a big white wine, like a California Chardonnay, a Spanish Albarino or a white Cotes-du-Rhone blend.