Lobster thermidor

Serves 2
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Cooking a live lobster at home will probably frighten the life out of most of you. The last time I did a lobster recipe, the RSPCA sent me a thick ream of paper the size of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary suggesting that I put the lobsters to sleep in the freezer before plunging them into boiling salted water.

If I were a lobster, I think I would prefer a quick death instead of a sleepy torture followed by an early morning wake-up call in a plunge pool of boiling water. Anyway, that's my opinion and I will eagerly await all your responses on the subject of what you think is the correct procedure.

But if you want to save yourself the aggravation, why not buy your lobster ready cooked? You can order it specially from your fishmonger, but remember to ask him to cook it for slightly less time than normal - fishmongers often tend to overcook them.

1 x 500-600g lobster, cooked
50ml white wine
1 large shallot, peeled and finely chopped
1tsp English mustard
100ml fish stock (or a third of a good quality stock cube dissolved in that amount of hot water)
300ml double cream
20g cheddar cheese, grated
1/2tbsp freshly grated parmesan
1 small egg yolk
Salt and pepper

Simmer the white wine with the shallots until it has almost evaporated. Add the mustard and fish stock and reduce again similarly. Add the cream, reserving a tablespoon, bring back to the boil and simmer until it has reduced by half or more and is quite thick. Then add the grated cheddar and parmesan and whisk until the sauce is smooth. Season and leave it to cool. You can add a little more mustard at this stage to taste if you want the sauce a little more tangy. Whip the remaining tablespoon of double cream until it forms soft peaks and fold it into the sauce with the egg yolks.

Pre-heat the oven to 230C/gas mark 8. Remove the claws from each lobster, then crack and remove all of the meat including the smaller joints. Cut each body in half lengthways by inserting the point of the knife in the head and pushing it with the palm of your hand down through the centre. Remove the meat from the tails and cut it into four or five pieces. Mix it with a little sauce and lay it back in the tail end of the shell, with the meat from the claws left whole or cut into pieces and put into the head section.

Spoon more sauce over the lobster meat, bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the pieces are nicely glazed, or put them under a hot grill for 4-5 minutes.

If you want to make a really elegant presentation and have a large silver serving dish, then break the head off the lobster and remove the upper section that is not attached to the claws. Using a pair of scissors, cut a section of the head either side so that it faces up in the air when placed back on to the lower section of the legs. You can then glaze the halved tails as above and also spoon any extra sauce on to the tray to glaze, then place the warmed head and legs on the tray.

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