Thackeray's Lobster
Author: Kitchens
  • 1 very large lobster
  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 1 Tablespoon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Catsup
  • 1 Cup vinegar (white wine if possible)
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  1. (Amounts are approximate: the above measurement should be increased or decreased depending on the size of the lobster. You want about a cup of sauce per two people.)
  2. Thackeray's original follows: "You take a lobster, about three feet long if possible, remove the shell, cut or break the flesh of the fish in pieces not too small. Someone else meanwhile makes a mixture of mustard, vinegar, catsup and lots of cayenne pepper. You produce a machine called a "despatcher" which has a spirit lamp underneath it that is usually illuminated with whiskey." (He appears to be talking about a chafing dish with a pretty aggressive flame.) "The lobster, the sauce, and near half-a-pound of butter are placed in the despatcher, which is immediately closed.
  3. When boiling, the mixture is stirred up, the lobster being sure to heave about the pan in a convulsive manner, while it emits a remarkable rich and agreeable odor through the apartment.
  4. A glass and a half of sherry is now thrown into the pan, and the contents served out hot, and eaten by the company. Porter (i.e. stout) is commonly drunk, and whisly-punch afterwards, and the dish is fit for an emperor."
  5. Unfortunately the day of inexpensive three-foot-long lobsters has passed, even in Ireland (lobsters of this size are still taken off the west coast, however).
  6. In modern terms: Clean and shell the lobster as indicated above. Mix the mustard, vinegar, catsup and cayenne to taste (some people might prefer to cut the sourness of the vinegar by substituting a half-and-half mixture of vinegar and dry white wine).
  7. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, saute the lobster briefly in it, not allowing it to color at all; then add the mustard/vinegar/cayenne mixture, mix well, cover, and allow to stew over medium heat for 15-20 minutes.
Thackeray and his friends seem to have not eaten anything else with the dish, but they seem to have drunk a great deal; he remarks in the next paragraph of the excerpt on ways to deal with the hangover....
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