Roasted Lobster with Almonds
Oven-roasted lobster with almonds ("homard rôti aux amandes" in French) is Papa's (my dad's) specialty. Papa doesn't cook on a daily basis, except for Maman's birthday and special occasions such as New Year's Eve. Exactly one year ago, my husband Lulu and I were in Paris, celebrating the holiday season with my parents. And of course, Papa pleased me by cooking my favorite dish. First, the lobster is poached for a few minutes, then a drizzle of Hollandaise sauce covers the lobster meat along with a sprinkle of toasted almonds. Then, the lobster dish goes in the oven for a few minutes.
I absolutely love this seafood dish. The lobster meat turns out sweet and succulent. For obvious reasons, this luxurious dish isn't an everyday meal, but it’s a great way to make special occasions that much more special.
Yields: 6 servings3 whole live lobsters
2 cups white wine (optional)
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar (optional)
1 lemon, zested and freshly squeezed
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons curly parsley, finely chopped
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup Hollandaise sauce, for serving on the side
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, slightly toasted
Poaching the lobster:
Clean the lobsters, brush and rinse thoroughly. Place 1 gallon of water and the white wine (if used) in a pot. Bring to a boil. Add the lobsters to the pot, cover with a lid and simmer 5 minutes (they will finish cooking in the oven). Let the lobsters cool a bit. Once they're cooled enough to handle, cut each lobster in half lengthwise.
Carefully de-vein the black part of the lobster. Gather and reserve the coral from the head in a small bowl and discard the sand pocket near the head. Pat dry the lobsters using paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.
How to make Hollandaise sauce:
Using an immersion hand mixer (at a low speed), combine the egg yolks, vinegar (if used), 1 tablespoon cold water and 2 tablespoons of butter in a stainless-steel mixing bowl. Place the bowl on a double boiler (see tips). Slowly increase the speed of the mixer and add the rest of the butter. After a total of about 7-8 minutes, the sauce should be creamy and warm.
It's easy to check the consistency of the sauce: Coat the back of a spoon with the sauce. Run your finger down the back of the spoon. If the line you created with your finger remains, the sauce is ready.
Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, cayenne pepper and salt. The sauce is perfect when you get a yellow hue on the spoon. Transfer the sauce to a thermos insulated bottle until ready to serve (see tips).
Preheat the oven to 475°F.
Place 1 cup of warm Hollandaise sauce and the reserved coral in a bowl. Stir until well combined.
Place the lobsters in a baking dish. Drizzle the lobster meat with about 2 tablespoons of Hollandaise sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and toasted sliced almonds.
Place in the oven for 7-8 minutes. Once they're cooked, maintain the temperature at 170°F to keep the dish warm until you're ready to serve.
Gently crack the claws using a meat tenderizer mallet and place more Hollandaise sauce in a serving bowl to serve on the side.
Make sure the claws of the lobster are secured with an elastic band prior to adding it to the boiling water.
Prior to placing them in the pot, I place the lobsters in the freezer (for about 30-45 minutes).
For an easy double boiler, place a small saucepan over a larger-sized saucepan filled with simmering water. I always like to add a little kitchen towel underneath the small saucepan. That way it won't jiggle and there won't be any splatter of water in the Hollandaise sauce.
There's no way you can mess up the Hollandaise sauce if you use a thermometer. Check the temperature of the water in the double boiler; it should register 140°F.
If you have left-over Hollandaise sauce, it's perfect with steamed veggies such as asparagus or eggs for brunch.
Some people use the blender hollandaise technique by adding warm (melted) clarified butter, but I'm not very comfortable using raw egg yolks. To be safe, you could use pasteurized eggs.
If the Hollandaise sauce breaks (if the eggs have curdled), just let the sauce cool to room temperature, add a little cold water and whisk the sauce until smooth while warming it.