The biggest thing with getting lobster mac-n-cheese right is getting the right combination of cheeses in so that they enhance the lobster, not cover it up or compete with it. Now you could use a good decently aged cheddar but I like the slight sweetness of the Coastal aged cheddar from England. It pairs so well with the sweet, delicate flavors of the lobster. Throw in a little Gruyère and blue cheese and you have the perfect combination of cheeses to lobster.
To help settle down the guilt level of the lobster mac-n-cheese, I always pair it with whole wheat noodles and use whole wheat flour to thicken. I use skim milk and half-n-half for the cream. And serve with a side of steamed veggies. This is one of those dishes that you want to enjoy occasionally so don’t beat yourself up over it and just sit back and love every cheesy mouthful.
The other thing about lobster mac-n-cheese is it having enough lobster in it. I hate ordering it at a restaurant and you’re lucky if there’s one or two small pieces in it when it comes out. NO! I want lobster in every bite. The pound of lobster in this is perfect. It’s a pound of lobster without the shells, so if you get lobster to use make sure you get enough. You get at least one piece of lobster in every bit, sometimes two. Yum!
Now if you’re wondering where I found the Coastal Cheddar and the precooked small lobster tails, they both came from Costco. I love the little lobster tails, cause they are the perfect bite, wild caught and already shelled and cleaned. Just make sure you thaw them out in time to get the water out or unthaw them in cold water and drain well. I sauté them for two minutes in a hot pan before throwing into the mac-n-cheese to make sure the water is out or it waters down the dish.
Don’t forget a nice crisp bottle of chilled white wine to pair with this. Get a good Sauvignon blanc or something crisp that will cut through the creamy goodness. Don’t go overly sweet and forget the Chardonnay’s with this one, it just doesn’t work. I’ve mentioned one of my favorites before, Sea Mist that works well with this.
Don’t forget to add the cayenne pepper for a little spicy kick to balance the flavors. You can scale it down if you don’t like so much spicy but do add a little, after all everyone’s life is a little better with a little spice added. Just ask my husband!
Heidi’s Lobster Mac-n-Cheese
12 oz. whole wheat penne pasta
4 Tbsp. butter (use butter, don’t try substituting for margarine)
1/3 cup shallots, finely chopped
4 Tbsp. whole wheat pastry flour (all-purpose is fine as well)
1 cups of skim milk
1 cups of half-n-half cream
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground mustard
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 cups of shredded cheese (I used: 1 cup Coastal Cheddar (an aged English Cheddar), 3/4 cup Gruyère , 1/4 cup blue cheese)
1 lb. precooked lobster, cut into bite size pieces (Costco sells a 2 lb. bag of precooked small tails)
1 cup of Panko breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp. melted butter
Preheat your oven to 400°. Butter a 1 1/2 quart baking dish and set aside. Cook noodles according to package directions to al dente (cook done if you are going to skip the baking step). Drain the noodles and set aside.
Pre-thaw the lobster tails and sauté in a very hot pan for about 2 minutes (no longer) to remove the extra water from being frozen. Do not place frozen or wet lobster tail into the pasta or it will be soggy.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the flour, salt, mustard, white pepper, nutmeg, black pepper, and cayenne pepper and whisk until well blended. Slowly add the milk and cream, stirring constantly (reduce amount of each a 1/4 of a cup if you are not baking). Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for two minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and cook while continuing to stir for 10 minutes. Add the cheeses and simmer for an extra 5 minutes, stirring to blend the cheese into the béchamel sauce. Sample the sauce at this point to check that the seasoning is right, if needed adjust to your taste. Remove from the heat.
Fold the noodles and lobster into the sauce and transfer the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
Toss the bread crumbs with the melted butter and spread on top of the mac-n-cheese.
Bake in the over for about 20 to 25 minutes until sauce is bubbly and the breadcrumbs are browned.
Yield: About 5 to 6 servings.
More Tasty Lobster Recipes: