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Lobster Pithivier

This is such a special centrepiece. I like to serve it with simply cooked vegetables such as steamed baby potatoes, green beans and mangetout.


  • For the shellfish reduction

  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter

  • 50g/1¾oz onion, chopped

  • 50g/1¾oz carrot, chopped

  • 50g/1¾oz celery chopped

  • 1 x 600g/1lb 5oz cooked lobster, shell only (meat removed and reserved for the mousseline, see below)

  • 18 whole raw tiger prawns, heads and shells only (meat removed and reserved for the mousseline, see below)

  • 175g/6oz North Atlantic prawns, unshelled, roughly chopped

  • 1 tbsp Cognac

  • 2 tbsp white wine

  • 1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon

  • pinch saffron threads

  • 1 medium-sized tomato, chopped

  • 1.2 litres/2 pints 2fl oz fish or chicken stock

  • pinch cayenne pepper

  • For the mousseline

  • 350g/12¼oz white fish fillet such as cod, pollack, whiting or flounder, skin removed, cut into small pieces

  • ½ tsp salt

  • 2 small shallots, chopped

  • 2 free-range eggs

  • ½ quantity shellfish reduction (see above)

  • 250ml/8½fl oz double cream

  • reserved lobster meat (see above)

  • reserved prawn meat (see above)

  • For the Pithivier

  • butter, for greasing

  • 500g/1lb 1oz ready-made puff pastry

  • 1 free-range egg, beaten with a pinch of salt

  • For the sauce

  • ½ quantity shellfish reduction (see above)

  • 150ml/5fl oz double cream

  • 75g/2½oz unsalted butter, chilled, cut in cubes

  • 1 tsp very finely shredded basil leaves

  • lemon juice, to taste


  • 1.

    For the shellfish reduction, melt the butter in a large saucepan and fry the onion, carrot and celery for 3-4 minutes over a medium-high heat.

  • 2.

    Add the reserved lobster shells and tiger prawn shells, the chopped North Atlantic prawns and the Cognac and cook for a further 3-4 minutes, or until the shells smell fragrant. Add the remaining shellfish reduction ingredients and bring to the mixture to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes.

  • 3.

    Strain the mixture through a fine sieve, pressing as many juices from the shells as possible. Return the liquid to a saucepan and boil until the volume of liquid is 100ml/3½fl oz. Pass the reduction through a fine sieve and set aside to cool.

  • 4.

    For the mousseline, blend the white fish pieces, salt, shallots, eggs and half of the shellfish reduction in a food processor until smooth. While the motor is running, add the cream in a steady stream until the mixture has a mousse-like texture. Chill the mousseline for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

  • 5.

    For the Pithivier, preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Grease a large baking tray.

  • 6.

    Roll the pastry out thinly on a lightly floured work surface and cut out a circle of 30cm/12in in diameter. Set aside.

  • 7.

    Lightly knead the pastry trimmings, roll them out again thinly and cut out a 28cm/10in circle. Place it onto the baking tray.

  • 8.

    Roughly chop the reserved lobster and prawns and stir them into the mousseline.

  • 9.

    Spread the mousseline mixture over the smaller pastry circle, leaving a 4cm/2in border around the edge. Brush the edge of the pastry circle with a little water and place the larger pastry circle on top. Seal and crimp the edges. Make a hole in the centre of the Pithivier, then using a small sharp knife, score small curves in concentric circles from the centre of the Pithivier to the edge (without cutting through the pastry). Brush the Pithivier all over with the beaten egg. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until crisp and golden-brown. Remove from the oven and set aside for 15 minutes before cutting.

  • 10.

    Meanwhile, for the sauce, warm the remaining shellfish reduction and the double cream for 5-6 minutes then remove from the heat. Whisk in the butter then stir in the basil. Season, to taste, with lemon juice.

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