(theme song playing) JULIA: This lobster spent last night in the icy waters of Maine.
But he's gonna be star performer in homard à l'américaine, our next recipe on The French Chef.
ANNOUNCER: The French Chef is made possible by a grant from Safeway Stores.
JULIA: Here is our friend, the lobster.
He's going to star in homard à l'américaine, one of the most famous French lobsters, today on The French Chef.
♪ ♪ Welcome to The French Chef.
I'm Julia Child.
Today, we are doing a very famous French lobster dish called homard-- that means "lobster"-- à l'américaine-- meaning "in the American manner."
However, though it seems to be called after us, it's a dish that doesn't seem to be very well-known in this country.
We use Thermidors and Newbergs, but not very often à l'américaine.
And what it is is a lobster which is chopped and sautéed in the shell in hot oil, and then simmered in tomatoes, wines and flavorings.
It's an awfully good dish which I think you will enjoy.
And first, I want to discuss lobsters.
When you buy them live, be sure that they're lively.
The tail should hold itself closely like that, and when you pick it up, pick it up between the claws like that.
I mean, at the upper part of the claw.
And here is a rather nice little bit of information that's good to know, as to whether you have a male or a female lobster.
And the way you can tell is by this, these little upper feelers here.
You see, here's your chest, and there's your tail.
And these two beginning feelers tell whether it's male or female.
And this one is a female, and you can tell because this little feeler has hair, sort of slight hair on it.
It looks quite a bit like these, except it's smoother.
And this one is a boy.
And you can see these little feelers again.
It is... it's sort of pointed, and it doesn't have any feathers on it.
And you'd like to have the female if you're gonna do a dish like this because she has coral, and is the most-- and is, therefore, the most desirable, but either one is good.
And now we're gonna do how to chop up a lobster.
Now what we're doing is to chop them up into pieces.
Here we have half of the tail there.
And then we have a big claw.
And we have half of the chest.
And I'm gonna do that now so you'll see how it's done.
It's also useful because you cut up a cooked lobster in the same way.
Now, these are, these are fresh, raw lobsters, and when you start, the safest thing to do is to cut the claws off first and have a big knife and just go... whack!
And then cut it off on the other side, and then you don't have to worry about claws hurting and biting you.
As a matter of fact, I think it's a good idea to put on something because sometimes they splatter a little bit, so I'll just put on a towel.
And then you can either cut through here with a knife, or you can take lobster shears.
These are just pointed scissors.
I got these at my hardware store.
And you can usually get them anywhere, or just use ordinary scissors.
And then just cut, go right in on the underpart and cut right up through.
You can get your lobster fishman to do this for you, but it's a good idea to do it yourself, because the fresher they are, the better.
If he does it for you, you'd have to cook it almost immediately.
Then turn it on the other side and cut right up through the back of the shell.
And then, take your big knife and cut right down through.
And then just break it apart.
And now, you have this part here, which is the sand sac, our lady, and that part you want to remove.
'Cause that often has the little granules and things in it, which you don't want to keep.
Then, that's usually attached to the intestinal vein which runs down here, but I guess it's evidently empty, or I'd find it.
But usually you find the intestinal vein running down, running right down there, and you just pull it off.
And then, you have your lobster coral and green matter, which is this.
In the raw lobster, it's green, and this is considered to be the most delicate and lovely part of the lobster.
And reserve that in bowl.
This is the one from my cut-up lobster.
We'll take that out of both the lobsters with a spoon.
And then we cut them up.
You can use, for this dish, you can use the, the little feelers or not, as you wish.
We're gonna do it for company, so I'm gonna take the feelers off.
But you would always save them.
You could either make lobster butter with them, or you could just cook them and eat them yourself.
And then you take your big knife, and you want to chop here.
And 'cause this part has no meat on it, of the shell, I'm just gonna cut that off.
And then, those two pieces are ready, so we do the same with the other two, just go... whack.
Then I'm, again, gonna cut off this part of pure shell meat.
And all of this, these scraps, you can save and use for soup.
Now, this one has, they usually all have either a rubber band or a peg that keeps the claws from biting you.
And then, where the joint is there, just chop that down.
And then, so you can eat it-- easier eating, chop, break it a little bit on each side.
And you can also take your scissors and cut, cut it up that way.
So that one's done, and there's our final claw.
So you cut it up through here, This lobster was killed by my fishman before the show.
But they keep right on wiggling for hours.
It's some kind of a muscular action.
Now, this joint-- see, I'm cutting up through there.
Now I shall wash up.
You'd cut up a... a boiled-- you can cut up a boiled lobster exactly the same way.
But be sure that you always get rid of that sand sac.
And now... we're going to sauté the lobster in hot oil.
And I'm using a light olive oil.
You can use cooking oil if you'd like.
I'm using just enough to cover the bottom of the pan.
This is a good type of pan to use.
It's called a chicken fryer.
This one's made out of stainless steel and it has a heavy-- it has a heavy aluminum bottom and it spreads the heat very well.
And now, as usual, with sautéing, you have to wait until your oil is hot.
So you can usually tell by looking closely at it, and it moves a little bit.
But always remember, sautéing lobster, sautéing anything else, don't attempt to sauté until you've got hot oil, or you won't have a sauté, you'll have sort of a mushy stew.
And with this, the sautéing is to turn the lobster shells red and also to sear the flesh side of the meat.
And we're gonna put the lobster in with its flesh side down.
Now, I think my oil is hot enough.
I'm gonna put in one piece and see.
Yes, it makes a noise.
So put in all the-- there's a piece of chest there, and there's some more of the tail.
You notice that the lobster still moves, even though he is cut up.
That's the muscle reaction.
(sizzling) Don't put in any more pieces than your pan will hold comfortably, or you won't get the sauté.
See, I'm keeping these and other pieces in a side dish, and then, as soon as the lobster shells have turned red, then that is sautéed enough.
It only takes about a minute or two on each side.
Now we turn them over.
It just sears the meat just a little bit.
Then, as soon as those... See, this one here is already red, so I can take him out and put in the other claw.
Well, there's still a little more room, and that can go in.
And this comes out.
The shell turns red very quickly.
And here are these two joints that connect the claw to the body.
This is actually like... a little bit like some Chinese dishes, where they cut up the lobster.
Well, that's just about done, so that all comes out again.
No, it doesn't have to come out.
I mean, the rest of it goes back in.
And then we salt and pepper it... lightly.
We put on some pepper.
And then I have here another very French ingredient, which is called a mirepoix, which is very, very finely diced carrots and onions.
This always gives an added flavor, and it's been cooked first in butter.
You always cook it first in butter, and then it releases its flavor.
And I'm gonna put on about two tablespoons here.
Oh, I think I'll put all of it on, about three, because it has a lovely flavor.
And then I'm gonna put on some very finely chopped green onion.
You could use either very finely chopped green onion or shallot.
And I'm gonna put on about two tablespoons.
These lobsters weighed about a pound and a quarter.
They're called chicken lobsters.
And now, after that's all gone in, we're gonna flame it with cognac.
And I'm gonna put in about half of a cup.
Then, when that's good and warm, you take-- You just take a match and light it.
With that-- y-you can see how you have to stand away.
'Cause I was gonna say, "Stand away," and just as I had, up it went into flames.
And then you shake your pan.
This is not an essential step, but it's sort of dramatic, and I think it always makes the feel... the cook feel a little better to have flamed something in cognac.
And now, after it's burned about as long as this, you extinguish it with either dry white wine or dry white vermouth.
You'd use a cup of wine, or three quarters of a cup of dry white vermouth.
And be sure to use a good quality vermouth.
I always use French vermouth 'cause I can trust the quality, and I am-- I'm just used to the flavor of it.
But if you use a bad vermouth or a bad cognac, you just ruin your dish, and you don't want to ruin lobster.
And then, oddly enough, this dish-- this dish has a little bit of meat flavor.
You can either use a glacé de bouillon, which means a meat glaze that is homemade stock, which is boiled down until, when it cools, it forms a jelly.
It's rather like a bouillon cube, but always better 'cause you've made it yourself.
Or use a little bit of homemade beef bouillon or canned beef bouillon.
I'm gonna put in about a quarter, oh... about a half a cup there.
And then you want to use fish stock.
And if you don't have a fish stock, you can use canned or bottled clam juice.
This is a very good substitute for fish stock.
I'm gonna use about a half of a cup of that also.
Then we have our tomato flavoring.
And this is much the best if you use fresh tomatoes.
As you'll remember, we've done this before, but I'll do it again.
Take your whole tomato and drop it into boiling water for exactly ten seconds, and then when you take it out-- that's just what I've done to this-- you take the stem end out... and the peel just comes off very easily.
And then you want to strain-- You want to get rid of the juice.
In so many of these French recipes, you have to do this because you don't want a lot of water.
So, you just take the half of your peeled tomato in each hand and just squeeze like that and that gets rid of all the juice and the seeds.
And then we want to chop it very fine.
'Cause this sauce is not gonna be strained, and that's why you wanted the vegetables for your mirepoix.
I'm gonna turn the heat down a little bit.
Very finely done, a very finely diced mirepoix is called a brunoise.
That's what rather nice about French cooking, in that everything has a name, so you don't have to go through a long description of what you want to do.
You just have vegetables cut into mirepoix, or brunoise, and you know how they are.
I've got about two cups of tomatoes.
That's about six tomatoes.
And that just goes in there.
And then, to strengthen the tomato flavoring, I'm going to use a little bit of tomato paste.
I'll use two tablespoons of tomato paste.
And that goes in and gets stirred around.
And then we also have some garlic.
We don't have very much garlic, just a certain amount.
And there's your whole, unpeeled clove of garlic, and you just stick it as it is into your garlic press and squeeze.
That really is a great invention, isn't it?
And then we have our herbs.
That's a very French herb, which you should be able to get in any grocery store.
If they don't have it, have them order it for you.
Those are just the dry leaves of this lovely plant.
It's hard to describe what its flavor is, it just tastes like tarragon.
And then I'm gonna put some parsley in.
That's about two tablespoons.
And then... ...baste the lobster and cover it.
And then let it cook at a slow simmer for 20 minutes.
So I'm gonna put it down on the back burner here.
And then, while that's doing, we will do the preparations for our sauce.
You probably wondered what we were gonna do with this lobster coral, the green matter.
Well, this is... makes a perfectly delicious creamy thickening for your sauce.
So, there's our green matter.
And we put it into a sieve.
And then, we're gonna sieve it with butter.
We have about, say, three tablespoons of green matter, so we'll use three tablespoons of softened butter.
And then just push it through your sieve.
I've got a masher, but you can use a wooden spoon.
And it's sort of googly.
Then you find you get one... some of it that won't go through.
You-you push as much through, like that.
You always sieve it, 'cause there may be some little particles of shell in.
And then you use your... also, a rubber spatula, and push the rest through with that.
You probably can't get all of it through.
And you see, there's a little... a little piece of something there that didn't go through.
And there are little, tiny bits of shell left in.
And then scrape it all off the bottom of your sieve.
And then set that aside.
That's all then ready to use for your sauce.
And now, because this has to simmer 20 minutes, I have one that is already done.
And this one is at exactly the same stage that that one was at, except it's simmered for 20 minutes.
And we now want to reduce the sauce.
And so what you do is to take the lobster out.
This is your most important step, is your final flavoring of the sauce 'cause you want to reduce and thicken it.
And so, you always take it out.
I mean, take out the lobster meat and then boil the sauce down and taste it very, very carefully for seasoning.
Now this dish, which is called, can be called either lobster à l'américaine or lobster à l'Armoricaine.
Armorique is an old province in Brittany in northern France where French lobsters grow, and so... French people are very funny.
They just hate the idea of having any other nationality having done a wonderful dish like that.
And, though, presumably, the dish was originally called "à l'américaine" and it was made in Paris, the French people got so upset over that that some of them like to call it "à l'Armoricaine."
But it could hardly be à l'Armoricaine because they never use tomatoes and garlic in, in... in Brittany.
So now you see we-- you don't have to boil down the sauce terribly much 'cause you want just about a cup or so of sauce.
It's a very thick sauce, and now we want to taste it very carefully for seasoning.
This really is a lovely sauce, but at this point, you have all the taste of your wine and your tarragon and your other flavorings, which are cooked down into it.
But if you find that it needs a little more salt and pepper, you think it needs a little more tomato paste, put it in at that point.
And then, when you're satisfied that your sauce is just right, you just put your lobster back in.
And now you can... At this point, you can just set the lobster aside.
And you can refrigerate it or whatever you want to do with it, and then heat it up again just before serving.
So that's one reason this is a very nice dish, in that you can get all of this cooking ahead and then refrigerate it and then heat it up and finish your sauce just before you're ready to serve.
And now we're gonna do the final thickening of the sauce.
So we put that again over low heat.
Now mix up your... You want to mix up your coral matter in your bowl.
And then, now this is very-- this is called the final liaison of the sauce, and this is just exactly as though you were using egg yolks, and because the coral and green matter can coagulate very quickly.
So just-- We've done egg yolks several times, and this is exactly the same thing.
You've got your butter in it.
You'd have to have some kind of a liquid to help prevent them from curdling.
And then you have your hot sauce, and you just take a spoonful of that and put it in.
Oh, I should use my wire whip.
And beat it with your wire whip.
And then add a little bit more.
The object of this is warming it very, very slowly.
And then put in a little bit more until you've added almost a cup.
See, that's just the way we've done several sauces with egg yolks in them.
And then, when it has just been warmed sufficiently, you pour it back into your pan.
And this is going to act as a thickening, and also it's going to turn a lovely rosy color, but you don't want it to actually boil.
You take your pan and swirl it over heat.
Basting it with the, with the sauce.
And as it gradually heats up, it begins to turn a perfectly lovely dark red.
It's the coral, which, while it heats, turns this lovely color and also thickens the sauce.
And this is really the final fillip and delight to this homard à l'américaine.
Now that's all you do.
It's now finished.
And had you refrigerated your lobster, you'd have to let it cook in its well-seasoned cooking liquid until it was heated through, and then you would add your lobster coral.
And now we are ready to serve.
You could serve it right in the pan in which you cooked it, but if you want, you can cook the lobster for 20 minutes in the oven-- it doesn't make any difference-- but we have a nice heavy pan here so we can cook it on the stove just as well.
And then pour the rest of your sauce over the lobster.
And then sprinkle on a little bit of roughly chopped parsley.
And there we are.
Now this lobster dish, you want to-- it should be served, really, as a separate course with rice because you don't want to spoil the flavors of the lobster and the sauce with anything else but rice or with French bread.
And with it, we're going to serve a strong, quite full-bodied, chilled white wine.
We're using a Côtes du Rhône, or a wine from the Rhône Valley.
So I'm going to show you how to serve it.
Now some... sometimes-- heavens, I made a little mess.
Sometimes, when you serve this to people who are not used to eating in the French way, they object to having the lobster in its shell, but in France it's always served in the shell.
You want to be sure-- now we have a piece of the chest and a piece of the tail meat for each serving.
And this could be as a first course, or if you had it as a main course, you'd probably give everyone a whole lobster.
And then if you were doing it as a first course, you could serve whatever else you wanted following, and if it was a main course, you could serve a lovely green vegetable along with it, if you like.
And now to review what we did, it was to have a fresh, raw lobster, and if you have the nerve, cut it up when it's live, but it should be sautéed almost as soon as possible after it's been cut.
Then you sauté it in hot oil until the shells have turned red and then you flame it if you wish.
And then you let it simmer for 20 minutes in the wine, tomatoes, and seasoning.
And remember about the coral, that you sieve it with butter and then you heat it just as the way you do with egg yolks, with a little bit of the hot liquid until it is gradually warmed through.
And then you're ready to serve your lobster.
And next time, we're going to have French luncheon pancakes, crepe.
And that's all for today on The French Chef.
This is Julia Child.
Captioned by Media Access Group at WGBH access.wgbh.org ANNOUNCER: Julia Child is coauthor of the book Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
The French Chef is made possible by a grant from Safeway Stores.
ANNOUNCER: Julia Child is coauthor of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Accessories and furniture courtesy of Design Research Incorporated.
This has been a WGBH videotape production.