Recipe 8: Lobster Mac and CheesePosted: February 14, 2012
V-Day, for many people, means over-priced flowers, over-priced chocolates, and over-priced dinners in over-crowded restaurants. As with many other things, the hubz and I do things a little bit differently: We have a nice dinner in – fancier than usual, but without the trouble of crowds – and enjoy things nice and low-key. This weekend he treated me to one of our go-to romantic meals, a hearty surf and turf, so I decided that tonight I would treat him. And with this challenge in the back of mind, I figured there must be a romantic mac and cheese out there.
Does that sound silly? It might – but you did not know about Food in My Beard‘s lobster mac and cheese.
You may remember how much I raved over the Philly Mac and Cheesesteak from Food in My Beard. As such, I expected nothing but enjoyment from this recipe. I was not disappointed. Loverman and I often rely on shellfish as a special-meal (well, crab or lobster – shrimp is, well, shrimp), and while Loverman tends towards crab, I like both sea-bugs pretty equally. I couldn’t remember the last time I had lobster and Loverman had picked up some crab for our weekend surf-and-turf – so lobster it was.
Poor choice on my part in terms of cost-efficiency: Buying lobster on V-Day. One of my local grocery stores does sell pre-cooked lobster meat and saves you the convenience of removing the shells and all that, and of course there was plenty of it – but oh man, did it hurt the wallet. But it was delicious, and one can’t put a price on good food. Or romance.
Another somewhat unorthodox ingredient included in this recipe? White truffle oil. I managed to pick some up for a good price a while ago (I love non-traditional spices, oils, and vinegars – such simple ways to make otherwise normal ingredients pop!), but never actually used it yet. Oh man, why have I been waiting?
Remembering how much my last Food in My Beard mac made, I only made a half-recipe. There is still a respectable about of mac.
Lobster Mac and Cheese (from Food in My Beard)
- 10 oz. cheddar(I used sharp white)
- 8 oz gruyere
- 2 1/2 cups milk (I used skim)
- 1/4 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic diced
3 tablespoons flour
- 3 tablespoons truffle oil (to taste)
- 1 lb pasta (I used quinoa elbows)
- lobster – I used 1 large fresh lobster and 2 frozen lobster meat containers (I, on the other hand, used two small containers of pre-cooked, shelled claws. I would have gotten tails too, but I didn’t pay attention)
- Tablespoon chopped tarragon
- 1/4 cup chopped chives
- 1/4 cup chopped basil
- about 15 cherry tomatoes quartered
- homemade bread crumbs (I used a store bought gluten-free kind)
- lots of butter
Prepare the lobster. As I said, some of mine was pre cooked frozen. I thawed it as I steamed the fresh lobster, then mixed it all together (I didn’t have to worry about that). Chop the herbs all together and quarter the cherry tomatoes. shred up the cheese. Take about a tablespoon of butter and saute the onions in it. After 5 or so, add the garlic. Add 2 more tablespoons of butter and as it is melting, add the flour. Whisk it in and keep it moving, scraping the bottom. Get out all the lumps so it is a smooth mixture. Cook constantly stirring for 2 minutes. Add the milk. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan and whisk everything to keep it smooth. when the milk is almost boiling, slowly add the cheese in handfuls and make sure it is fully incorporated before adding the next. Turn the heat down a little at this point. When all the cheese is in, add the truffle oil. I used a lot because I like it a lot, but 3 tablespoons should be good (the cheese sauce smelled so good at this point!). Drop the pasta and cook it a bit less than it says to, but not much (I cooked the pasta while making the sauce to save time). I also food processed some bread at this point to make my breadcrumbs, and mixed them with melted butter (I melted about a Tablespoon at a time and eyeballed the bread crumbs). Mix the pasta with the sauce, lobster, tomatoes, and herbs, and get it into a 400 degree oven. We don’t want to overcook the lobster, and the pasta and sauce was already hot going into the pan, but we DO want to get everything set together and allow the pasta to absorb some of the sauce. After only 8 or so minutes, broil the mac and cheese until the top is browned. (I actually didn’t broil it after cooking it – oops) Wait the longest 10 minutes of your life before eating.
Like I said, I forgot to broil, and I think that probably would have added to the awesomeness of this recipe. Since tomatoes are out of season and I don’t have a greenhouse or anything, the ones I got were probably shipped in from across the country and were not the greatest, but that’s a minor complaint. Also, I never thought I would say this – but there might have actually been too much lobster. Insane, right? Every bite had chunks of lobster meat almost to the point of being overwhelming. Almost. The lobster meat was succulent, not overcooked thankfully, but I actually think this would have been good even without the addition of the lobster. The herbs – I used dried – added a lovely green element to the flavor, and again, I cannot praise that white truffle oil enough. It was savory but light – the whole dish, actually, was surprisingly light. Obviously it’s not diet food – it’s still mac and cheese, after all – but it didn’t have that weightiness in the belly that you sometimes get with mac and cheese. As I mentioned before, I made a half recipe, but we still have leftovers even after we both took two helpings – though not as many as we did for the Philly mac and cheesesteak.
Loverman liked the recipe too, but was not as enthused as me. Actually, a fan of crab, he had this suggestion:
“Here’s a thought,” he mused as he ate, “Use snow crab instead of lobster… maybe instead of the cherry tomatoes, use sundried tomatoes… and add blue cheese crumbles on top. I wonder how that would be.”
Hm… So do I, Loverman. So do I.