lobster mac & cheese
Hello there, friends and foodies. Apologies to all those who I have recently (i.e., during the past 2+ months) denied to send recipes because my blog entries would provide them oh-so-soon. And here we are, a few months later, on the verge of law school final exam season, and finally – yes, finally! – after much anticipation (at least, by me) and with a much-less-than-perfectly-designed website and a not-totally-original recipe, I’m happy to post my first official food blogging entry. It only took 2.5 months for my need for procrastination before exams to surmount my obsession with formatting perfectionism, and now you are the happy beneficiaries.
Macaroni and cheese is, without a doubt, the ultimate second-best comfort food, after my slow-cooked garlic butter and Parmesan mashed trio of potatoes, which I promise to post about between now and Thanksgiving (I swear! I totally botched that, having just posted the recipe a year and several days after Thanksgiving later). But this is no ordinary mac and cheese. Here, the lobster adds sophistication, making this mac and cheese recipe truly decadent.
Notes on ingredients and substitutions: I picked up fresh lobster tails at Costco to save some cash. If you’re on a tighter budget or if lobster just doesn’t speak to your foodie heart, you could also substitute shrimp, scallops or another type of meat. The cheese can likewise be substituted, but you’ll want to keep a good-but-blander melter cheese (here, Gruyere or other Swiss cheese) combined with sharper cheeses to give it flavor (here, extra-sharp cheddar, and Grana Padano). If you choose to include Parmigiana Reggiano, keep in mind that it’s saltier than Grana Padano and has a stronger taste that can overpower the lobster.
- 1/2 lb. pasta (I used fusili/rotini – it seems to hold onto a large amount of cheesy goodness)
- 3/4 lb. lobster meat (I picked up lobster tails at Costco)
- 2 c. milk (I used 2%)
- 5 Tbsp. butter
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 1 small clove of garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 c. flour
- 1 1/3 c. Gruyere, grated
- 2 c. (8 oz.) extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 1/3 c. Grana Padano, grated
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/2 c. marinara sauce (optional – sometimes I use it, sometimes I don’t)
- 1/2 c. panko (or other breadcrumbs)
- 1/4 c. reserved lobster water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Boil water and cook pasta for 2 minutes less than package instructions (pasta will continue cooking in the oven). Drain pasta, and reserve water. Steam lobster for 2 minutes over boiling reserved water. Remove lobster from the pot, allow to cool, and then dice into chunks (1/2-inch or 1-inch, depending on how chunky you would like it). Reserve lobster water. Note: lobster should not be cooked through, as it will continue to cook in the oven.
Meanwhile, in a small pot, saute onions in 1 Tbsp. butter until translucent, then remove onions. In the same pot, heat the milk, garlic, and black pepper, but do not boil. In a larger pot, make a roux by melting 3 Tbsp. butter over low heat, then adding flour. Whisk the mixture over low heat for 2 minutes. Slowly add the hot milk, continuing to whisk, and cook for another two minutes, until thickened.
Remove milk mixture from heat. Add nutmeg, cheddar, gruyere, grana padano, and marinara, and stir well to create cheese sauce. Taste sauce, then add salt or pepper if needed (I thought it was already salty enough). Add cooked pasta and lobster, and stir well to coat with cheese sauce. It sauce appears too thick, add some of the reserved lobster water, as it will continue to thicken in the oven.
Scoop mixture into individual gratin dishes or larger casserole dish. Melt the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter, toss with panko or breadcrumbs, and sprinkle on top of the mac. Bake for 30 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and breadcrumbs are slightly browned.