Fall in Love with Lobster Mac and Cheese
With the rooomaaantic holiday of Valentine’s Day coming up this weekend, you might be looking for a decadent, indulgent, out-of-the-ordinary meal to cook for your special someone (or yourself, I don’t judge). For some reason, my mom would always make lobster for our family on Valentine’s Day, I suppose just because it’s a more “fancy” delicacy than your usual seafood. And I mean, lobster is delicious, so it’s a pretty solid choice! If you aren’t opposed to a truckload of cheese (actually if you are opposed to that I don’t even know why you’re reading this site) alongside your lobster, this could be the recipe for you!
Can’t even lie, this is not my creation, it came from my friends the Neelys. Their lobster mac and cheese is SO good, I don’t even understand it. I think it’s the use of gruyere alongside the white cheddar, plus the sweet paprika and lots of cracked black pepper… oh and the LOBSTER. I’ve made this twice for celebratory dinner occasions and it is a crowd pleaser to the millionth degree. To really kick things up, I like to add extra garlic, extra black/cayenne pepper, and an extra lobster tail for good measure. I also like to par-boil the lobster before adding it to the pasta, although the original recipe tells you to add it just straight up raw. I feel like the texture is better when the lobster is already cooked, but you can choose your own adventure on that one.
And YES, I realize the Neelys have filed for divorce and I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT and the state of their love lives can’t ruin how magical and special this lobster mac & cheese is. The love between the Neelys may be gone, but the love between my mouth and this mac will never be diminished.
Lobster Mac & Cheese
4 tablespoons butter, plus 1 tablespoon for greasing dish
1 pound penne pasta
2 small shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white wine
4 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar
2 cups shredded gruyere
2 (8-ounce) raw lobster tails, defrosted if frozen, meat removed from shell, chopped
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley leaves
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and adjust racks to the middle. Grease a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with butter.
In a large pot of boiling salted water over medium heat, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve.
Add 4 tablespoons butter to a large pot over medium heat. Once the butter shimmers, add the shallots and garlic and saute until translucent. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the tomato paste and flour and stir to toast, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the white wine and reduce, by half, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the cream, whisking well to remove any lumps. Add the paprika, cayenne, and bay leaf. Bring the cream up to a simmer and turn the heat to low. Let reduce until the cream is thick and can coat a spoon, about 5 to 10 minutes. When thickened, remove the bay leaves.
Stir in the grated cheeses, a handful at a time, combining well after each addition. Add the chopped lobster meat to the sauce and stir well. Add the pasta and stir. Add to the greased baking dish and sprinkle with the panko crumbs and parsley. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle individual servings with parsley.