Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Lobster Mac and Cheese
I'm pretty sure the thing I miss the most about living in New England is the seafood. The ability to go to the grocery store, grab a lobster or some fish without spending a week's grocery budget (or fearing digestive disaster) is a luxury I took for granted growing up in Massachusetts. Now, when I'm back home, I take any advantage to enjoy all the seafood there is to offer.
We had my little cousins over for dinner on my last night home and decided to make mac and cheese. Of course, this meant I had to get some lobster in there. It was the right thing to do. It's the bacon of the ocean, after all.
I was mostly inspired to eat lobster because of my camp friend. She grew up a pescatarian, so she's never had meat or poultry at all. For Thanksgiving, her family has lobster and oysters. How amazing is that? I am not a turkey person so I'd take lobster and oyster Thanksgiving over the traditional any day!
By the way, why does anyone still eat mac and cheese out of the box? I mean it serves its purpose, and sometimes I crave it, but man it does not COMPARE to homemade mac and cheese. Sure, it's more expensive to make it from scratch, but it's easy to do and the taste is night and day. This is the serious comfort food I need in the middle of winter. Plus you can change it up in so many different ways - using different kinds of cheese or any mix in from lobster to bacon to pumpkin. It's a versatile dish that guests of all ages love.
Oh right, the recipe. I don't think I even need to tell you how good this was. My little cousins scarfed it down despite being sometimes-picky eaters (we conveniently didn't tell them there was lobster in it) and I couldn't resist taking a second helping. We doubled the recipe and used meat from 2 small-ish lobsters and I'm not sure how many ounces it actually was, but I'd use more next time. I'm sure it was way less than 24 oz though so I think you'll be OK using the recipe as is below. I might need to go home soon so I can make some more!
Lobster Mac and Cheese
from Annie's Eats
8 oz. pasta (I used cavatappi)
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
6 oz. fontina cheese, shredded or finely diced
4 oz. white cheddar cheese, shredded
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
Dash grated nutmeg
12 oz. cooked lobster meat, cut into ½-inch chunks (claws and tail)
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
Minced fresh chives, for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.
2. Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish with butter.
3. Bring a pot of water to boil. Cook the pasta for about 2 minutes less than the package directions say is "al dente". Drain well into a large colander.
4. While the pasta is in the colander, return the pot to the medium heat. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in the pot. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until light golden brown, about 1-2 minutes.
5. Slowly whisk in the milk in small additions until completely added and no lumps of flour remain. Stir in the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Continue to heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce bubbles and thickens, about 5 minutes.
6. Once bubbling, cook for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly, scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent burning. Remove the pan from the heat.
7. Stir in the cheese one handful at at time and mix until completely melted.
8. Return the pasta to the pot and mix to coat well with the cheese sauce. Gently fold in the lobster meat. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
9. In a small bowl, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in the microwave. Stir in the Panko and toss until the crumbs are evenly coated. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the pasta in the baking dish.
10. Bake uncovered for about 20-25 minutes or until the top is browned and the cheese is bubbling. Serve warm topped with fresh minced chives, if desired.