Culinary Arts

Butter-Poached Lobster With Macaroni and Cheese

Thomas Keller

Lesson time 31:41 min

One of the most famous dishes at the French Laundry is the butter-poached lobster with macaroni and cheese. Chef Keller shares his recipe and teaches his techniques. Viewer advisory: A live lobster is cooked during this lesson.

Thomas Keller
Teaches Cooking Techniques III: Seafood, Sous Vide, and Desserts
Chef Thomas Keller’s third MasterClass is devoted to preparing seafood, sous vide cooking, and making classic desserts.
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[MUSIC PLAYING] - Our sweet butter poached Maine lobster with macaroni and cheese. One of the most famous dishes at the French Laundry, which has proliferated around the world. This is lobster 2.0. It's an intense process, beginning with our live lobsters here, with some hot water that's heavily acidulated. Creamy lobster broth. We have a beautiful Parmigiano tuile. Orzo to make our macaroni and cheese. [MUSIC PLAYING] My most favorite memories of lobster were a broiled lobster with a little ramekin of drawn butter, clarified butter, with a lemon juice in it. When I was a young cook, the way we treated lobsters in our restaurants was we would cook them in a court bouillon, which was water that was acidulated with lemon. Had some herbs in it, maybe some garlic. The prerequisite for it was seven minutes per pound. And then we would take the lobsters out of the shell, chill them down, and then use them in our recipes throughout the evening. To me, they always tasted a little off. And off meaning they weren't that memory of lobster-- or, a lobster with butter that was so fond for me. So I wanted to figure out a way to remove the lobster meat when it was still raw so we could treat it like we do our fish. We don't cook our fish, or anything else before we then set it in mise en place for preparation later. We cook our fish a la menu. What came of that was our ability to kill lobsters with hot water acidulated with vinegar. Just distilled vinegar, of no consequence. The vinegar helps the albumin in the lobster contract, so pulling it away from the shell a little bit. Of course, the hot water does the same thing. And the result of this, we're able to remove all of our lobster meat while it's still raw, or 90% raw. OK. So here we go, this is the beginning of our butter poached lobster, which we're going to get to a little later, but we have a lot of work to do to get there. So quickly. [WATER SPLASHES] Now we're going to let the steep there, probably for about a minute and a half, maybe two minutes. You can see the shell is already starting to turn a little bit orange. The tail is curling under, which is normal when you cook a lobster. We're going to remove the meat from the tail, the claws, the knuckles-- which we call knuckles, which actually aren't knuckles. They are the arm that attaches to the body from the claw. I'm going to show you a neat little trick to pull the meat out of the legs here as well. So I'm working quickly. We all know that our lobsters, we have to buy our lobsters live. We don't want to ever buy our lobsters that are dead. That's just not going to be good. We're going to take our, took our arm. Break that down to remove the claw. I'm going to put the claw back in the water, along with the, what we call the knuckle. Same thing on the other side. The claw requires a little more temperature than the tail does. We can remove our, these are incidental, the meat that we're going to pull out of here. We...

Elevate your cooking

In his third MasterClass, Chef Thomas Keller focuses on preparing fresh seafood like lobster and salmon, making classic desserts such as apple pie and lemon tart, and showing how sous vide cooking can be done at home to enhance flavor and texture. Whether you’re a beginning or advanced cook, you’ll learn the techniques and principles that will give you the understanding and skills to get the most delicious results.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Keller is the best. A wonderful teacher and chef. Having read his books it was a great opportunity to see him actually cook some of the dishes I had tried from his book and see how he handled it. He always brings something new to each dish and that's a wonderfully inspiring thing to see as well. I hope you continue to have him back at Masterclass to do more of these lessons!

Once again chef Keller gives excellent instructions and expert tips that are always coming in handy... thanks chef!

Wow! Thomas Keller is as good as it gets! So much incredibly interesting and insightful information. After each lesson I couldn't wait to get to the next one. Fantastic.

Awesome class! Thank you so much! I've really enjoyed all three of his classes.


A fellow student

Can I just make the butter sauce and sous vide the lobster with the sauce, so that I dont have to afraid of overcooking it?

Srikanth M.

Chef Keller that is sure decadent and a dish fit for a King. However macaroni is not my most obvious choice for starch, i do not like the texture of Mac....would prefer a good quality risotto rice.

A fellow student

Your tail would curl if I were to pour boiling water over you. Not enough respect for the creature, as fair as I am concerned.

Tommi J.

I loved this lesson!!! I'm so glad I got to see Chef Keller make the beurre monte!!! I'm especially fascinated with how he cooked the lobster... Wow!!!


Distressing with the lobsters but I love the end product so I am grateful to know what it takes to produce the final outcome.

Zachery M.

I used to work in a swanky restaurant. Currently working on a food industry project while juggling school. This brings back memories. Chef Keller is a legend in the field. Thanks for Masterclass 3: Electric Boogaloo xD