My THREE DAY “52 In 22” Cooking Challenge! I Sous Vide TFL’s Lobster Dish With Thomas Keller!

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Behold The Legendary Sous Vide Lobster From The French Laundry!

The photo above is Chef Thomas Keller’s recipe called:

“Butter -poached Maine Lobster tail, hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, bone marrow, sweet carrots and pearl onions”!

And I am going to make it!

My “52 In 22” cooking challenge – to cook from a different cookbook I own every week for the entire year – ran into a roadblock this week – week #8 was one of the legendary 3-Michelin Star Chef Thomas Keller’s cookbooks – this one focused on cooking “Under Pressure!”



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Yes, I put this massive and intricate cookbook on my stack of the first ten cookbooks I would cook from for my “52 In 22” cooking challenge…but little did I know it would be a THREE DAY FOOD ODYSSEY!

Here’s how it it all began:

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Bring On The Bone Marrow!

Yes, the finished dish has five in gradients listed – and each one must be prepared separately – beginning with the bone marrow!

The first step is to remove the bone marrow from the bone…by putting it into an ice bath for 20 minutes before draining:

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Watch what happened next:

That’s right: NOTHING.

I pressed my thumb as far in as I could but nothing happened.

So, as instructed by Keller, I placed it back into lukewarm water for five minutes, then tried again…my wife Alex filmed this part for me and here is what happened:

Success! The marrow goes into ice water…and…that’s the end of day one!

You see, the marrow must now soak in an ice water bath – replaced every 6-8 hours – for 24-48 hours total!

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My Sous Vide Lobster Cooking Challenge – Day TWO!

A day later, the marrow still happily soaking away, I’m back for part two of the recipe: making a “Lobster Shell Infused” sauce…

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I used kitchen scissors to cut the bottom of each lobster shell, cracking the spine and pulling out the fresh lobster meat – the shells go into a pan, the fresh lobster meat gets tightly wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for their appearance later…

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Making the Lobster Sauce:

Here are the ingredients for the reduced-wine lobster sauce: 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms, a quarter cup fresh sliced onion, the same amount of carrots, and a bit less than a quarter cut of shallots…

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Add bay leaf, thyme and a bit of veal stock – I had to use roasted beef…and combine in a large sauce pan…

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Now the best part: add two cups of a dry red wine like Cabernet, and bring the ingredients to a boil, and then you can light the wine up if you like, I let mine just cook for ten minutes, then removed it from the heat and let it cool….after that, you add in the lobster shells, make sure they are covered with the liquid, then refrigerate overnight…

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And there you have it – day #2 is in the books!

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Day #3 Begins With Bone Marrow!

OK, here we are, the final stretch: it begins with that bone marrow, now soaked and rinsed and soaked and rinsed for 48 hours…this is easy: slice it into rounds, lightly coat with flour and pan fried:

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Once fried, you can set aside – and drag out the Sous Vide Machine and finish this dish!

But first, don’t forget your Lobster sauce! My son decided to turn on his phone and ask me what I was up to:

As you can see, after marinating overnight, put your marinated lobster shells in a pot and them to a boil…OK, this was a cheat on how long I did it – Chef Keller’s method is much more time-consuming, but the end result is the same: after cooking it down a bit, I strained all the vegetables and shells out, and then just reduced the remaining stock down until it was velvety smooth…skimming the top as you go…

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The reduced wine, roasted meat stock, lobster shells and vegetable sauce is delicious!

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Time To Sous Vide!

Yes, it’s halfway through day #3 of this recipe, and I finally get to do what the recipe called for – sous vide some stuff!

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Loading Up The Sous Vide Machine!

You are looking at Pearl Onions, which I prepared by putting an “X” in the root end, boiled them, let them cool, and removed the skin…they are then placed in a sous vide bag with a teaspoon of sugar, hint of salt, two tablespoons butter, tablespoon of white wine vinegar and the same amount of water…

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In a separate bag, I do the same with cut discs of peeled carrot, which uses sugar, salt, butter and water as above…

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I seal each bag and place them into the sous vide machine – heated to 185 degrees…

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They take 30-35 minutes…note that I didn’t worry about vacuum sealing met bag, just let a little air in there , as the amount of sauce inside is more than enough to poach the vegetables…

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I chose to empty each into a ramekin with the buttery sauce – you see them dry, but the sauce kept them warm and flavorful, and I made use of some of it later as well…

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Last and best: the Lobster Tails go into their own bag with some butter and fresh tarragon, and cook for 15 minutes in a very precise request of 139 degrees!

While they cook, time to make your mushrooms…I didn’t have “hen of the woods” so I used oyster mushrooms instead….I kept them intact lengthwise and cooked them over medium high heat in a little olive oil and salt…

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Here’s how it was all coming together:

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Time To Plate!

Well, after three days of cooking, it was time to present the dish…almost…I took a minute to share my thoughts on this recipe and my decision to include it in the first ten cooking challenges:

And here, three days later, is what I plated and served to Alex:

Here again is the photo used in Keller’s cookbook:

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Another angle of mine:

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I was very happy with how this turned out: the Lobster Sauce was velvety and rich underneath the sous vide carrots and pearl onions, creamy and soft to the bite: the Bone Marrow had an creaminess as well, and theLobster was silky and buttery, almost melting in the mouth, with the mushrooms adding to the earthiness counterpoint to the Lobster…

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Chef and Cookbook Author Michael Ruhlman was involved in this book, and he also wrote many of Chef Keller’s other Cookbooks with him, so of course Michael was one of the first ten cookbooks I tackled as well:

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This was his “Crispy Mollet Egg With Asparagus Sauce” recipe – click here to see how I pulled it off!

The French Laundry is one of the world’s most acclaimed restaurants – located in California’s Napa Valley:

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“Oysters and Pearls” is just one of their incredible signature dishes – Alex and I were lucky enough to be invited to their restaurant’s 20th anniversary event – click here to see all of the celebration and food!

this is recipe #8 of my “52 in 22” cooking challenge, where I have so far made everything from vegan eggplant rollups to a “Duck Pancetta Mustard” pie:

How did it turn out?

Click here for the recipe and the result!

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Categories: 52 In 22!, Bite Eat Swallow, Bite! Eat! Repeat!, Books / Media, Chef memoirs, Cookbooks, Eat This!, Fine Dining, Food, Food Pictures, Food Porn, Recipes, Restaurants, Travel, World's Wildest Food

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12 replies

  1. Wow! That looks fabulous! But it’s beyond my skillset to make! I’ll just have to visit the French Laundry. Or come to your place for dinner! 🙂

  2. Well done for taking on that challenge, John it looks delicious…:) x

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