I love macaroni and cheese and this dish is probably one, if not the best, comfort food I could eat all year round. Occasionally you need to kick up your macaroni and cheese by adding a special ingredient like seafood.
Ina Garten has upgraded the typical mac and cheese by adding lobster to it. Lobster is pretty expensive here (unless I can get it on sale) so next time for this recipe I will substitute shrimp or crab. I will save the lobster tails for grilling and dipping in lots of butter. I do like the flavor seafood imparts to macaroni and cheese and you can take it further by adding a little Old Bay Seasoning or even a dash or two of hot sauce.
I absolutely love the cheese she chose, gruyere and extra-sharp cheddar. I chose an American cheese, Tillamook, which is made from a quality blend of cow’s milk. The distinct flavor and quality of the sauce is over the top!
Normally I would use my slow cooker this time of the year to make macaroni and cheese but I have been wanting to make this recipe since the cooler months of Spring and never got around to it. I couldn’t leave all that lobster in the freezer any longer!
Lobster Mac and Cheese, Adapted
- 1 lb. cavatappi (I would use only 3/4 lb.)
- 1 quart whole milk (I used a mixture of 2% and whole milk)
- 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
- 1/2 cup flour
- 4 cups Gruyere cheese, grated (12 oz.)
- 2 cups extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (8 oz.) (I used Tillamook – love this cheese)
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/2-1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning (optional) or any other seasoning of your choice
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt (I used 1/2 tbsp.)
- 1-1/2 lbs. lobster meat, 1/2-inch diced ( each lobster tail has 4-5 oz. of meat so you will need about 6 tails)
- 1-1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Thaw lobster tails overnight in a covered bowl.
Trim the bread and let it sit out overnight. Cut the bread into small pieces and process it in your food processor to a medium crumb. For more information go to Homemade Bread Crumbs. These do make a difference in the finished dish…
Cut the lobster tails along the backs, pull apart the shells and remove the meat. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Boil the pasta in salted water according to package directions; drain well.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan but do not let it boil. Using the pasta pot melt 6 tbsp. butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Whisk in the hot milk and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat and add the cheeses, 1/2 tbsp. salt, pepper and nutmeg, Old Bay Seasoning (if using) stirring until the cheese melts. Stir in the cooked pasta and lobster. Pile the mixture into 6 (2-cup) 5-1/2″ gratin dishes.
Melt the remaining 2 tbsp. butter, combine with the bread crumbs and sprinkle on top. Bake for 30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the bread crumbs are browned on top. Don’t overcook or the lobster can become chewy…
Recipe by cooking with aunt juju
Speaking of Ina, a new cookbook “Cooking for Jeffrey: a Barefoot Contessa Cookbook” will be coming out in October. I just pre-ordered it – I guess that makes 10 cookbooks that I own of Ina’s. Any couple that has been married for 48 years gets my attention and admiration for developing a strong, loving and meaningful relationship.