Macaroni and cheese. Classic comfort food. I’ve had it over and over again throughout my life. There are some nights when you just crave that gooey, cheesy pasta…and tonight was one of those nights for me. I rummaged through cookbooks and looked online to find out where to begin. I had lobster tails in the freezer and right away thought, “LOBSTER MAC AND CHEESE!”. I ended up picking out an Emeril seafood mac and cheese recipe to guide me.
I’ve had only a few really good macaroni and cheese experiences in my life. I find I’m often disappointed with what I am served at restaurants. I get so excited at the table when I see lobster, or crab, or truffle mac and cheese on the menu. The excitement builds until my food arrives, and then I’m usually let down by the not-as-glorious-as-I-thought-it-would-be dish of pasta. I guess it’s easy for the pasta to absorb a lot of the sauce, and you end up with a not-so-cheesy, dry, mac and cheese, with not a lot of flavour. Maybe I just don’t go to the right restaurants…
Anyway, it doesn’t even matter which restaurants I go to anymore, because I made THE BEST MAC AND CHEESE I HAVE EVER HAD! I don’t think I’ll ever eat any other kind. This M&C is rich and creamy, really cheesy, and is covered in a delicious golden panko crust. It’s so rich and filling, that you can serve it with just a salad or steamed veggies on the side and your meal is made! It’ll be the most satisfying meal of your life.
I used a fiorelli pasta, which was a gorgeous rolled/curled up frilly little tube-like pasta. I figured it would hold they sauce well, while also looking beautiful, which it did…very well. You can always stick to the classic elbow macaroni or even cavatappi or penne.
The cheese you use will change the flavour of the mac a bit. Also, using some cream will make the sauce a lot richer. I always try to use the ingredients I have at home. I happened to have a lot of Swiss and Gruyere, so I used it along with some aged cheddar. I also had almost a cup of whipping cream in the fridge, so I used that along with my 1% milk.
Best part: the recipe’s totally versatile. I made lobster mac and cheese, which works wonderfully. You can, however, replace the lobster with crab or any seafood you like. You could even take the seafood out and just do a plain mac and cheese. Mushrooms, truffle oil, shrimp, broccoli…there are a million ingredients I would experiment with. I’m convinced it would taste amazing along with any ingredients you fancy.
Lobster Macaroni & Cheese
- Sea salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 4 cups fiorelli pasta (or whatever pasta you decide to use…4 cups= 1 pound)
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups 1% milk, 1 cup whipping cream. **The original recipe called for 3 cups whole milk. I used what I had in the fridge. Using cream will definitely make your sauce more creamy.
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 lobster tails, de-shelled, cleaned, chopped (Use as much lobster as you like.)
- A bit of oil/butter to cook the lobster
- 4 cups of mixed grated cheeses *I used 2 cups Swiss, 1 cup aged white cheddar, 1 cup Gruyere* (I’ve seen other recipes use all cheddar, while I’ve seen many with combos of cheddar, swiss, parmesan, or fontina.)
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- About 1/2 teaspoon of Creole seasoning**
** I mixed up my own version of a Creole seasoning: 1/8 teaspoon each of onion powder, garlic powder, dried thyme, dried oregano, paprika. A little salt and pepper. Use this mixture if you don’t have a pre-mixed Creole seasoning.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Put a bit of oil/butter in a small pan (enough to coat the pan) on medium heat. Add chopped lobster. Saute until cooked, 3-5 minutes. Once the flesh has become opaque, it is done. Set aside. *You can keep this small pan handy for Step 8.
3. In boiling salted water, cook pasta 2 minutes less than al dente (I cooked my fiorelli for 5 minutes). Drain, rinse with cold water, set aside.
4. While the pasta cooks, melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add chopped onions and minced garlic. Saute until soft, 3-5 minutes.
5. Add flour, stir, and cook for about a minute.
6. Add milk/cream slowly to pan, while whisking until smooth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 3 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Keep whisking, don’t let it burn. Season with 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, and ground nutmeg. Mix.
7. Remove the pan from heat. Fold in lobster, pasta, and cheese. Mix it up well and transfer to a shallow 4-quart baking dish or a casserole dish.
8. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small pan (I reused the lobster-cooking pan). Take it off the heat and mix in the panko breadcrumbs and Creole seasoning. Mix well and scatter over macaroni mixture.
9. Place your dish of macaroni on a rimmed baking sheet (I think this is in case of overflow) and bake in the oven, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the topping is golden.
10. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
11. Take a moment to prepare yourself for one of the best meals of your life, and then DIG IN.
If you love lobster, cheese, mac and cheese, or all of the above…this is something you MUST try!
Hope you love it as much as I do! Happy eating! xx