Homard au Whisky

Preparation info

  • Serves


Appears in

Everything on the Table

Everything on the Table

By Colman Andrews

Published 1992

  • About

Sometimes, though, Claude does the cooking. This is one of his specialties—inspired, he reports, by a dish he used to indulge in sometimes at Maxim’s.


  • 2 onions, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 bouquet garni (3 sprigs parsley, 1 sprig thyme, and 1 bay leaf, tied together firmly)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 live lobsters, 1 to 1½ pounds each
  • Good-quality Scotch whisky, warmed
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 6 to 8 saffron threads, lightly toasted and crushed
  • Tabasco sauce


In a large Dutch oven, cook onions, garlic, tomatoes, and bouquet garni in olive oil over low heat for at least 1 hour, or until very soft and thick. Season mixture to taste with salt and pepper.

Cut the lobsters into large pieces along the separations in their shells.* Detach and crack the claws. Cut the head in two lengthwise, reserving the light green tomalley (liver) and, if present, pink coral in a bowl. Discard dark portions.

Sauté the lobster tails and claws in olive oil in a large pan until the shells just turn red. Immediately flambé them with about 1 cup of warm whisky. Mix lobster pieces in the whisky until well coated.

Add wine to the onion mixture, bring to a boil and reduce slightly, stirring constantly. Add the lobster pieces and whisky sauce to the pan. Add saffron to mixture, stir well, and place the split lobster bodies on top. Cover pan and let the lobsters cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes.

Remove lobster from the pan and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, continue cooking sauce, stirring occasionally, until it is thickened. Remove the lobster from the shells. Crush tomalley and coral (if any) with a fork, then add ¼ to ½ cup of it to the sauce. Add a few drops of Tabasco sauce, to taste, and a splash of whisky, stir well, then return shelled lobster pieces to the sauce and heat through.

Serve with plain white rice.

* Claude maintains that this operation must be performed while the lobsters are still alive for optimum flavor. (“Their claws must be bound with rubber bands,” he notes, “or they will fight back”) Clearly, this is not an operation for the squeamish. A workable alternative, recommended as humane by the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare in Great Britain, is to plunge the lobsters first into a large quantity of rapidly boiling water (about a gallon per lobster—do it in batches unless you have a very large stockpot), for about 30 seconds. Then remove them and proceed. Alternatively, you can ask your fishmonger to prepare the lobster as described.