Lobster Thermidor is a classic dish for entertaining. Ok, classic from a few years ago, but when you see how easy it is, and how incredible it tastes, I assure you, it will be one for the recipe file. I understand Lobster in many places is an extravagance, so it may not be something you regularly indulge in. Suffice it to say, other seafood may be substituted. Let’s stick with the lobster for now. This is not a recipe to rush through, as there are a few steps involved. 

Seafood cooked beforehand is key.

First, the seafood, it cooked beforehand, mixed into the sauce and next fills the awaiting vol au vents. It is a French word for little boxes made from puff pasty that hold their shape when filled with food. Often pastry shop refrigerator cases have pastry cream filled, fruit topped, apricot jam glazed vol au vents. Scan the freezer section of your local gourmet or grocery store and there may a box or two nestled in amongst the puff pastry selection. OR, OR, OR make your own. It is really easy. Want to make it more complex or if you have a lot of time, which I did, make your own. I’d not made puff pastry in quite some time, and with little else to do, jam sales are still slow, I spent a day making it. It was fun. I made a lot. I froze a good bit. 

Puff Pastry takes a little time.

Prepare vol au vents ahead of time. 25-30 minutes is a reasonable assumption for rolling out to oven removal. Bake on a high heat, keep a careful eye so as not to burn, and they hold at room temperature until ready for filling. 

How to make vol au vents:

Sauveur – steps with pictures: HOW TO MAKE VOL-AU-VENT

Video Instruction from The Culinary Exchange:

The Culinary Exchange – Video

To cheese or not to cheese, that’s the seafood question. I cheesed.

And last, make the Thermidor or Mornay sauce. If you are wondering why I offer two versions its because there are a lot who think it is a crime to mix fish and seafood. In Maine, we do it all the time. Why? It tastes good. Also, we eat a lot of seafood, and varying the cuisine, the seasonings and cooking method is how we keep variety in our lives.

Lobster Thermidor vs Mornay

And last on the list of steps is to make the Thermidor or Mornay sauce. If you are wondering why I offer two versions, it’s because there are a lot who think it is a crime to mix cheese and seafood. In Maine, we do it all the time. Why? It tastes good. Also, we eat a lot of seafood, and varying the cuisine, the seasonings and cooking method is how we keep variety in our lives. 

Additional recipes to try:

Maine Lobster Newberg from Lobster from Maine
Lobster Casserole with Ritz Cracker Topping from New England Today, Food
Dick Bridges’ Classic Lobster Chowder from New England Today, Food

Lobster Thermidor/Mornay

Serves: 4
Prep Time: 30 - 60 min

An updated on the classic Lobster Thermidor, with a touch of Mornay. Cheese is optional in this dish, but it's really, really good.

Ingredients

  • 4 large vol au vent or 8 small (see photos above/recipe steps below)
  • 1 lb/500g cooked lobster* (amount after being removed from shell), cut into pieces. Leave a few pieces of claw for presentation
  • 2TBSP unsalted butter
  • 2 small shallots, minced
  • 1 TBSP all purpose flour
  • 2 oz/60ml dry sherry
  • 2 oz/60ml stock (lobster, chicken or vegetable)
  • 8 oz/250ml heavy cream (organic without stabilizers if possible, is best)
  • 1 TBSP dry mustard
  • 4 oz/120g shredded Gruyère or sharp cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • sweet or hot paprika, for garnish

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C

2

Prepare lobster - either cook fresh and pick or defrost in refrigerator.

3

Prepare vol au vents - follow the video or steps above using prepared puff pastry. Once baked, set on a rack to cool.

4

In a large saucepan, melt butter.

5

Add minced shallots, cook for about two to three minutes until soft and translucent.

6

Whisk in flour and mustard into the butter, allow to cook for about 2 minutes, whisking constantly.

7

Add sherry, stock, and cream. Stir frequently until it thickens. (At this point it is Thermidor. Omit the cheese step. Skip to add lobster).

8

Add cheese. Stir until melted.

9

Add cooked lobster.

10

Remove from heat.

11

Place vol au vent on a plate, fill with lobster/mornay or lobster/thermidor sauce.

12

Sprinkle paprika (hot or sweet).

13

Place vol au vent lid on the side.

14

May garnish with fresh tarragon or parsley, if desired.

Notes

LOBSTER SUBSTITUTE: shrimp, crab or fish such as cod or haddock Frozen vol au vent shells may be used as well. Look for all butter ones, they simply taste better.

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