I’m back in Jersey City, and to cap off the lovely beach weekend I made lobster mac and cheese.
Every few months we get whole live lobsters, either boil or steam them, and sit at our counter cracking them open and dipping them in butter warmed in tiny ceramic pots with tea light candles. It’s a fun tradition that started with our first Valentine’s Day five years ago, and it makes for a great date night. Today we decided to switch it up in multiple ways to both save time and try something a little different. We got two 1 1/4 pound lobsters at ShopRite (they’re on sale this week!) and had them steamed there. Once we got home, I whipped up a quick mac and cheese to serve with them. James and I saw a version of lobster mac and cheese on some kind of food show last week, and have been thinking about it ever since. I have made mac and cheese countless ways over the years – with Velveeta, evaporated milk, and enough cheddar that you need to use a food processor; with non-traditional cheeses like smoked gouda or brie; with mix-ins like bacon and broccoli; with and without béchamel sauces – it’s really hard to go wrong with any pasta and cheese combination. Today, I used:
- About half a box of campanelle pasta (you can use whatever shape you want, including the classic elbows; this just looked good to me today)
- About two tablespoons of flour
- A little more than a cup of heavy cream
- A handful and a half or so of the leftover shredded cheddar and Colby cheese mix that my friend grated up for the shrimp and grits last night
- A tablespoon or two of shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- Six tablespoons of salted butter, divided into three pieces
- Some seasoned bread crumbs
- A drizzle of olive oil
- The meat from two 1 1/4 pound lobsters, shelled and cut into large bite-sized pieces
This made enough for an indulgent dinner helping for two people, plus a big container of leftover pasta.
I cooked the pasta, then put it in a colander with two tablespoons of butter, so I could free up the pot to make the sauce. If I wasn’t feeling lazy and trying to just get it done I would have made the sauce in another pot, but today that just felt like too many dishes to wash. I melted two tablespoons of butter, whisked in the flour, and let it cook for a few minutes, then slowly whisked in the heavy cream. It’s really better to heat the milk or cream you are using for a béchamel sauce like this, but once again, I was being lazy and trying to save time today. Once the sauce thickened a bit, I stirred in the cheese until melted, then stirred in the pasta. I put it in a baking dish, sprinkled enough breadcrumbs and shredded Parmigiano Reggiano to cover the top, drizzled on a little olive oil, and put it in the oven at 350F degrees. I let it bake for about 15 or 20 minutes, until it was bubbling and the top was golden brown. I finished it off by melting the last two tablespoons of butter, drizzling it over the lobster chunks, and topping the pasta with the lobster to serve.