Lobster tails with Noilly beurre blanc sauce
In this recipe, lobster tails are roasted in the oven and served bathed in a rich, buttery sauce flavored with Noilly Prat, the dry French vermouth. The result is supremely elegant, and execution is easier than you may think.
If you’ve never made beurre blanc before, I would suggest that you prepare the sauce before putting the lobster in the oven. You can keep the sauce warm while the lobster is roasting by using what the French call a bain-marie — setting the pan containing the sauce above another pan filled with warm water. But if you’re experienced with beurre blanc, you’ll have time to make the sauce while the lobster is roasting.
You can use fresh or frozen lobster for this dish — frozen being arguably easier. If using whole live lobsters, boil them very briefly before beginning the recipe — until they are inert, but not fully cooked. Allow to cool, detach the tails and proceed with the recipe. If using frozen lobster tails, defrost overnight in the fridge before beginning.
For success with the beurre blanc, use cold, unsalted butter and cut it into pieces before beginning. The addition of the cream will stabilize the sauce. Plan to serve the lobster straight out of the oven, accompanied by a crisp dry white or Champagne.
This recipe serves 2, either on its own as a starter or lunch dish, or as a main dish, preceded by a harmonious starter such as oysters, and accompanied by other seasonal dishes, for example a purée of sweet potatoes or celeriac, and a salad of tender leaves.
2 large lobster tails
1 tsp. olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 lb. (100 g) unsalted butter
1 large shallot or 2 medium shallots
1/3 cup Noilly Prat vermouth
2 tbsp. heavy cream or creme fraiche
salt to taste
Dry the lobster tails. Place them on a cutting board flesh side down. Using a very sharp, sturdy knife, cut the lobster tails in half lengthwise. This is more difficult that it sounds. Plunge the knife through the shell in the middle of the tail and work it to slice through and down to the narrow end. Go back to the middle and work it up to the thicker end. If the shell is too resistant, go in with the kitchen scissors to finish the job.
Line a baking pan with parchment paper or grease lightly with olive oil. Place the tails in the pan flesh side up. Coat lightly with olive oil. Grind on some black pepper. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 7 (400 F, 210 C).
Now make the sauce. Begin by preparing the bain-marie that you will use for keeping the sauce warm. Bring a pot of water to the boil — but which pot? The best solution is to use the bottom of a double boiler. If you don’t have one, you’ll need two saucepans of different diameter. Boil the water in the larger one, reserving the smaller one for the finished sauce. When the water boils, turn off the heat.
Cut the butter into about six pieces. Set aside.
Mince the shallot finely. Transfer to a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the Noilly Prat and bring to a boil. Allow to bubble over high heat until the shallot has turned translucent and the liquid has evaporated by about half. This takes about 5 minutes.
Turn the heat down to medium, stir in the cream and simmer until the liquid has decreased again by half, about 2 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low and add the butter, one piece at a time. As you add each piece, stir with a wire whip until the butter is completely melted. Continue until you have used all the butter. You will have a thick, unctuous sauce. Add salt to taste, stir and turn off the heat.
Strain the sauce through a sieve into the top of your double boiler or into your smaller saucepan and set over the pan of boiled water to keep it warm. Do not turn on the heat or the sauce could separate.
Now that the sauce is ready, place the lobster tails in the oven and bake until they just begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes.
Distribute the lobster tails on individual plates. Spoon on the sauce. Decorate with a few tender leaves. Serves 2.