The Celluloid Pantry: Lobster from 21 and Rear Window (1954)

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Sometimes a romantic dinner in means bringing the restaurant home.

In Rear Window (1954), socialite Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly) has a tray from the 21 Club brought downtown to her boyfriend’s, L.B “Jeff” Jeffries (James Stewart), Greenwich Village apartment.

Laid up with a broken leg, Jeff watches in bemused amazement as Lisa unveils a nice Montrachet rosé, broiled spiny lobster, and one of 21’s signature checked tablecloths.

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With the lobster warming in the oven, Jeff and Lisa’s attention wanders to the apartment complex across the courtyard, where their neighbor’s romantic lives are played out over the dinner hour: the newlyweds are too busy to eat; the dancer, “Miss Torso,” pours drinks and “juggles wolves;” a suspicious Mr. Thorwald brings a tray to his bedridden wife; and “Miss Lonelyheart” sets a table for two and shares dinner with an imaginary lover.

Today, the 21 Club is no longer the power scene it was during the old Hollywood era, but they do still cook up a mean lobster. Click below the jump for a modern-day recipe. And don’t forget to close the blinds…

The 21 Club’s Ultimate Lobster Cake

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. minced jalapeno
1/2 cup minced red bell pepper
1/2 cup minced onions
sea salt
freshly ground white pepper
2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp. Tabasco sauce
2 Tbsp. lime juice
5 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. chives
1-1/2 tsp. finely chopped Italian parsley
2 tsp. finely chopped cilantro
cayenne pepper
8 oz. lobster meat (boiled and cut into small knuckle-sized chunks)
1/2 cup soft breadcrumbs
1-1/4 cup panko bread crumbs (set aside 1 cup for breading)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 sprigs lemon thyme
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Place 2 Tbsp. oil into a sauté pan; heat lightly. Add the jalapeno and bell pepper with the onions; cook on low flame. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sweat the vegetables (no color on them) until translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Cool the vegetables.

In a mixing bowl, stir the egg yolks, Tabasco, lime juice and mix well. Add mayo, mustard, chives, parsley, cilantro and cayenne. Whisk well.

Add the lobster and vegetables. Stir and add the soft breadcrumbs, and 1/4 cup panko crumbs. Mix well. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Spread out panko bread crumbs on the top of the counter. Place 4 ring molds (3 inch diameter x 1-1/2 inch deep) on top of the crumbs. Next divide the mixture into molds evenly. Next, add the 1-1/2 tsp. panko on top of the lobster. Press and pack the lobster into the rings with the back of a spoon, then remove the cakes from the molds, pressing slowly (be careful not to break up the patty shape).

Add the 4 Tbsp. olive oil to a sauté pan, heat until semi-hot. Carefully add the lobster cakes to the pan and cook slowly about 3 ½ minutes, then turn them over and add thyme sprigs and butter, place in oven and cook for approximately 3-1/2 minutes or until golden brown.

- Nora

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Sara Kate is the founding editor of The Kitchn. She co-founded the site in 2005 and has since written three cookbooks. She is most recently the co-author of The Kitchn Cookbook, to be published in October 2014 by Clarkson Potter.