Clubhouse Eats: There’s one rule at Horseshoe Bay Resort, and it’s don’t mess with the lobster recipe

March 26, 2020
The Yacht Club's chicken fried lobster at Horseshoe Bay Resort.

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Seven months ago, when he stepped aboard as chef of the Yacht Club, at Horseshoe Bay Resort, just outside Austin, Texas, Tommy Suddeth was greeted cheerfully by members. But the warm reception came with a caveat.

“The message, basically, was, ‘Glad to have you here,'” Suddeth says. “‘But whatever you do, don’t mess with the lobster!'”

As in, the chicken fried lobster, one of the Yacht Club’s most popular — and decadent — items. In certain stuffy culinary circles, chicken-frying lobster is regarded as uncouth, a rough-edged treatment of a tender delicacy. But this is Texas. They’ll chicken-fry a tumbleweed if you let them. And besides, what do those food snobs know, anyway?

The Yacht Club’s chicken fried lobster is ambrosia of the high-brow, low-brow variety, an elevated dish without a whiff of pretension. It takes a careful hand, and quality ingredients, to do it right.

Starting with cool-water lobsters from New England, Suddeth takes a 7-to-8 ounce portion of tail meat and dredges it in flour and eggs. The flour itself is seasoned with myriad spices, including cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and Old Bay. Properly coated, with just the very tip of the tail shell left intact, the lobster is then deep fried in high-quality oil, a precise cooking process that leaves the meat sweet and juicy with a crunchy, golden exterior.

But the preparation isn’t complete yet. Suddeth also cooks down lobster shells, creating a stock that becomes the base of a silken, satisfying lobster bisque. The bisque is great for slurping, but it’s also good for dipping the fried lobster tail itself, which gets plated with sides of whipped potatoes and wilted spinach. Drawn butter shows up, too, for an extra dose of indulgence, with grilled lemon wedges to cut some of the richness.

Now, who would ever what to mess with all of that?

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