My Rolla neighbors Martha and Paul Long are great cooks, who sent me a recipe they’ve tried several times. They gave it rave reviews and even included photos, which I know from experience adds time and turmoil to any dish.
They like this recipe so well, that they cooked it recently for his mother-in-law’s birthday. That showed some kitchen courage on Paul’s part, since his mother-in-law is a retired home economics teacher, who’s turned out many a good meal.
The dish is an adult version of mac and cheese, a recipe from Ina Garten’s cookbook Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust; Yet, as Paul says, it’s “not an everyday dish.” The ingredients are a little pricey, but the Longs have figured out how to make a substitution here and there that does no harm.
You can follow the smooth voice of Ina Garten in a video and/or view Martha and Paul’s preparation of Lobster Mac and Cheese in their home kitchen (shown below). In Ina video, she assembles the dish in less than 4 minutes, but Paul assured me that in real time, it takes closer to a half hour.
Lobster Mac and Cheese
from Ida Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust
1 pound cavatappi or elbow macaroni
1 quart milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
½ cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1½ pounds cooked lobster meat
1½ cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. In a large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyère, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and lobster and stir well. Place the mixture in 6 to 8 individual gratin dishes.
Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh breadcrumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.
- Cut the recipe in half and you can still serve 6-8.
- Reduce the nutmeg to 1/4 teaspoon.
- As a short cut, use buttered Panko Italian bread crumbs for the topping.
- Add a dash of cayenne pepper.
- Use less lobster (it can do with 1 lb.), or use part or all crab or langoustine (it resembles a prawn or scampi).
- Substitute a different cheese for the more expensive Gruyère cheese.
- Use a baking dish rather than individual gratin dishes.
- It might be a good idea not to introduce this heavenly, gourmet version of Mac and Cheese to young kids too early in life.