This was my Valentine’s Day gift to John.
You see, a couple of months ago we went to dinner at a local seafood restaurant and John ordered the lobster macaroni & cheese. We both had high hopes for his selection, but what was put down in front of him resembled boxed mac & cheese in both appearance and taste.
Needless to say, we were disappointed.
I told him right then and there that I would make a homemade version for Valentine’s Day, and I held true to my word.
I turned to one of my cooking idols, Ina Garten, for a base recipe on which I could put my healthier spin, and the Barefoot Contessa did not let me down!
I’m not sure I really have words for how lusciously delectable this dish is, but I will try.
The rich gruyere and sharp cheddar do not compete with the sweet and succulent lobster meat, which is like hidden treasure amongst the creamy cheese sauce and crisp breadcrumb topping. This is one of those dishes that compels you to close your eyes as you relish in each delicious bite… until your plate is picked clean.
Yeah, John loved it :). As did I!
Lobster Mac & Cheese
adapted from Ina Garten
yield: 4 servings
- canola oil cooking spray
- 1/2 lb penne (preferably whole wheat or whole wheat blend)
- 2 cups 1% low fat milk, preferably organic
- 4 Tbsp salted butter, divided
- 1/4 cup flour (I used all-purpose, but any will work)
- 6 oz (about 2 cups) grated gruyere cheese
- 4 oz (about 1 1/4 cup) grated 50% reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, such as Cabot
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 lb freshly cooked lobster meat, chopped into 1-inch pieces (I purchased cooked lobster – a combination of claw, knuckle, and tail meat – from my local fish monger)
- 2 slices whole wheat sandwich bread, lightly toasted and pulsed in a food processor to form fine crumbs (alternately, you can use 3/4 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs, but fresh is much better!)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat an 11 x 7 inch baking dish with canola oil cooking spray.
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add in penne and cook until al dente (about 2-3 minutes less than amount of time recommended on the package). Drain.
- Meanwhile, heat milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until hot but not boiling. Turn off heat.
- Melt 3 Tbsp butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Whisk in flour for 1 minute.
- While continuing to whisk, pour in the hot milk and whisk mixture until smooth and thick, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in the grated cheeses, salt, and pepper.
- Stir in the drained cooked penne and lobster meat until fully combined. Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish.
- Melt the remaining 1 Tbsp butter in the microwave and stir in the breadcrumbs until moistened. Evenly spread the buttered breadcrumbs over the penne, cheese, and lobster mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.