Monday, 2 July 2012

Mac & Cheese Mondays: Lobster Mac & Cheese

So....  About Jessica over at How Sweet It Is....  She's like.  Awesome.  Funny.  Creative.  I love reading her blog.  She never fails to make me laugh (out loud) and never fails to make me drool all over the keyboard when I'm looking at her food.

Gosh, yum.

Go visit her.  Tell her I say "Hi" (even though she doesn't know me).  And be prepared to be hooked.  Trust me.  I can almost guarantee you'll be dying to know what she writes next.


Jessica goes on and on about her Lobster Mac & Cheese.  And I was itching to know why she raved so much.  Well - not really itching, cause that sounds gross, but waiting with baited breath.  That kinda sounds better.

I don't generally splurge on real lobster.  I usually go with the fakey stuff and just call it even.  Lobster, in the land-locked province where I live, is just so expensive.

But I made an exception because I wanted this to be part of my Dad's Father's Day gift.

Oh goodness - just wait for it.  Wait for it.

Jessica's recipe calls for 3, 6-7 ounce lobster tails, but the only reasonably priced lobster tails I could find were quite a bit smaller than that - so instead of 3, I used 4.  It came out to be about the same weight when all was said and done.

I also bought WAY too much gruyere - but that's okay.  I'm going to be slathering that buttery delicious cheese onto absolutely everything I can find.  Like my shoe.  And then I'm going to eat it.

Here's what you're gonna need.

I asked my Mom if maybe I should use a fancy schmancy pasta instead of plain old elbow macaroni - because it's a fancy schmancy meal.  She laughed and said "nope, just use the plain old elbow stuff". 

It's more kitschy that way.  I like kitschy. 

Plus, I didn't want to go buy more pasta.

Okay - so the reason that the cheddar is already grated and nothing else is, is because I had some sort of complete malfunction this particular weekend and had to make like 85 grocery store trips.  Because I didn't have enough of ANY.THING. 

Well, gruyere.  But nothing else.

I needed 2 1/2 cups of cheddar for this recipe and the cheddar that I had in the fridge didn't look like it was going to be enough, so to save my sanity and prevent me from running out the door in the middle of making dinner to pick up more cheddar because I was having a malfunction and didn't have enough cheddar, I shredded it up and measured it out.

I had JUST enough.  Like.  I'm scraping out every single little tiny piece of cheese out of the food processor bowl to make 2 1/2 cups of cheddar.

Then when I was putting together dinner I couldn't REMEMBER if I actually had 2 1/2 cups or if I just THOUGHT I had 2 1/2 cups. 

So I measured it out again.


This was basically how my whole weekend went.

Moving on.

The recipe itself is actually incredibly easy to put together.

Except for the big part.

Getting that succulent lobster meat out of the tails.

Did you know that on the "belly" of lobster tails, on each section there are these little spikey hook things?  And they're very sharp?  And they poke you and make you bleed all over the place?  And you're going to end up with a 1/4 inch long, very deep cut on your thumb that hurts like super-bad?

Cause you will.  Watch out for those little spikey hook things.  Why do they have them ANYWAY?  Lobsters live in rock hard shells!  I don't get it.  I mean - I don't have spikey hook things on MY belly.

But would it be weird if I did?

After messing around cracking each section of the first tail (and bleeding everywhere).  I came up with a MOST ingenious way to get the meat out of the shells.

Put the tail belly side down.  Avoid spikey hook things.

Press down on the center of each section with the heel of your hand.  The shell with crack open and then it's tres easy to rip the shell off and pull out the meat.

Blood free.

Now, maybe it's just me, but when I cut down the center of each "tail" (is it still a tail when the shell's off?) there was this grody vein thingy that was full of silt and other delightful yuckiness.

Pull that out and rinse the ever living bejeezus out of the tails. 

I didn't take a picture of that because I was (bleeding) thoroughly revolted.

Now give the tails a rough chop and set the chunks aside.

Mince some garlic.....

Chop up a shallot......

In a non-stick pan, heat olive oil and butter until melted.

Add the shallot and garlic.

Add the lobster and cook 1 - 2 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup of the white wine and cook for 1 - 2 minutes more.

Drop to the floor from the sheer ecstasy of the smell.

Set aside.

Cook the pasta, drain, and set aside.

In a double boiler, heat the cream and add the cream cheese.

Then add the shredded cheddar, gruyere, and parmiggiano-reggano in handfuls until it's melted.

Jessica recommends that if the cheese sauce is really thick, to add white wine in 1/4 cup increments, stirring well until it reaches the consistency you prefer.  Mine didn't need to be thinned, but I added in a little sploosh of wine anyway.

Die from cheesy ecstasy.

Now that the pasta is cooked and drained, the buttery, x-rated cheese sauce is made, and the lobster has been languishing in a little bath of butter and wine - it's time to put it all together.

Jessica recommends putting half the pasta in a baking dish, then layering half the lobster on that then half the sauce on that.  Then repeat.

My baking dish was most definitely too small to do that.  So I just grabbed another dish and put half of everything in each.... 

Top with panko crumbs and bake for 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown and bubbling.

I let mine stand for about 5 minutes before serving.

Oh my goodness.

Oh my goodness.

Oh my goodness.

It was worth every single little poke by those weird little spikey hook things.  Even the big cut on my thumb was worth it.

I was worried there might be too much garlic (three cloves, after all, is A LOT!), but you couldn't even tell.  I was worried because there was no salt or pepper or spices of any kind that it wouldn't be flavourful.  I was worried that the sauce was too thin.  I was worried that the lobster would be overcooked and chewy and disgusting.

I was an idiot to be worried.

The saltiness of the cheeses was all that was needed for seasoning.  The wine that the lobster cooked in served to make the lobster and the cheese bolder and more flavourful.  The lobster was succulent and perfectly cooked.

It was incredibly decadent and elegant (even with plain old elbow macaroni). 

The dish is really rich, so you only need a salad as a side.  And soft buns if you so choose.  That's all I did.

It was a perfectly incredible, mouth-watering, to die for (because now you'll have died at least 6 times or more) meal.

And now I understand why Jessica bragged and bragged and bragged.  She seriously had good reason to do so!

PS - Jessica - you're awesome.

This is the Cane girl - signing off.

Lobster Mac & Cheese

3 6-7 ounce lobster tails, thawed (or fresh if you can get them that way!), shells removed and meat cubed
1 (or 2) pound noodles (your choice - I used plain old macaroni)
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded gruyere cheese
1 1/4 cups shredded parmigiano-reggiano cheese
2 cups heavy cream
4 (or 5) ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup white wine (plus extra for a little splash here and there if needed)
1 chopped shallot
3 minced garlic cloves
3/4 cup panko crumbs
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a large baking dish and set aside.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and set aside.
  3. In a non-stick pan, melt the butter into the olive oil and heat through.
  4. Add the shallot and garlic and heat through.
  5. Add the lobster meat and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Add 1/4 cup white wine and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.  Set aside off heat.
  7. In a double boiler, heat the heavy cream.
  8. Add the cream cheese and stir to melt.
  9. Add the shredded cheeses in handfuls, stirring to melt after each addition.  Heat until thickened.  If the sauce is too thick, add a splash of wine (to a maximum of 1/4 cup) and stir to combine.
  10. In the greased baking dish, add a layer of noodles, a layer of lobster meat, and half the cheese sauce.  Repeat.
  11. Top with panko crumbs and bake for 30 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown.
Source:  How Sweet It Is

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