Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lobster Macaroni & Cheese Recipe

It is Superbowl weekend and Josh asked me to post the Lobster Macaroni & Cheese recipe. Not your standard Superbowl fare but certainly a dish that will be remembered for years to come! Oh, and don’t forget to check out the Puppy Bowl with Feline Halftime Show on the Animal Channel! : )
This football cake was designed by a bride and groom for a very untraditional twist on the wedding cake. There are no rules!!!

Lobster Macaroni & Cheese - Can feed 6 to 8 people


· I like a pasta that is tubular for this- cellentini, orrechetti, shells work nicely.
· 6 – 8 ounces o f good white semi soft cheese that is not too strong. Fontina, Fontinella, Bel Paese, Havarti, Port Salute, Muenster- use your own taste buds to guide you
MY TIP: there are always odd ends of cheese that are destined for the trash if I don’t save them from that fate. I trim them and wrap them well and pop them into ziplocks labeled soft, semi soft, hard and then pull them out as a recipe calls for them.
· ¼ + cup White Wine
· ¾ - 1 quart Heavy Cream or Half and Half
· 1 – 2# cooked Lobster Meat (can also use crab meat) cut into large chunks
· About ¼ cup Shallots (or onions, green onions, leeks, if you don’t have shallots)
· Some butter
· Sale & White Pepper
· Chopped Chives (Optional)
· Buttered bread crumbs (Optional)
· Buttered Baking Dish

Cream sauce:
Sauté chopped shallots (or substitute) in small amount of butter till soft and translucent-don’t let them brown. Add most of the heavy cream (or half and half) and reduce by ¼ over medium heat to thicken slightly. Add wine (to your taste), bring back to a simmer and slowly, constantly stirring, add small amounts of the chunked cheese to the sauce, incorporating each addition completely before adding more.

Taste this as you go along. If you think you would like more cheese, add more cheese. Season LIGHTLY with a bit of salt and a bit of white pepper. You can even add the barest touch of cayenne or mustard here.

Pull this off the heat and strain into a clean container. SAUCE CAN BE MADE AHEAD at this point. If making ahead, cover the sauce with plastic wrap and cool down as quickly as possible.

To assemble:

Cook your pasta, I like to cook mine REALLY, REALLY al dente in liberally salted water. To where there is a real crack when you bite into it for these baked dishes. The pasta holds its integrity and does not become mush.

Combine sauce and pasta, mix well. Mix in your lobster meat, the optional chives and turn into your buttered baking dish. THIS CAN BE MADE AHEAD AT THIS POINT.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Top with optional buttered bread crumbs (or not). Bake till bubbly. This can be anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes depending on how big the baking dish is, how deep the mixture is loaded, how accurate your oven is.

A word about the lobster meat. Most of us in my area are lucky enough to have outstanding markets all over that always seem to have freshly cooked lobster meat available on a regular basis. If you are not that lucky, grab some tails and poach them off in a court bouillon. Chill them, and pull the meat out. The shells can be saved to make lobster bisque out of but that is another recipe for another day. Frozen lobster meat is available and can be used and the last choice is canned.

Court bouillon: peeled onion, leeks, a carrot, fresh fennel, bay leaf, peppercorns, white wine, lemon juice and water brought to boil to extract the flavor and strained. Keep the liquid from having too much green color to preserve the color of the seafood.

A word about buttered bread crumbs: I love the bit of crunch on top of a classic mac & cheese but this dish deserves a little more. Use hand grated larger crumbs from a terrific loaf of bread. Again, rescue that bit of bread you were going to feed to the birds (give them the crusts-what do they know) and store those crumbs in the freezer, tightly wrapped.

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