Is it possible to improve the flavor of a family classic dish such as macaroni and cheese? I didn’t think it was. I’m a Martimer through and through and love seafood. Boiled lobster dinners were a family tradition where I grew up…fresh lobster boiled, cut opened and gorgeous chunks of heavenly meat dunked in hot melted butter – bliss. So simple and yet so incredibly indulgent. The thing is, I’m not a big fan of lobster prepared other ways, it seems a sacrilege to do so. I’m not usually so closed-minded about my food but there are some things that should remain traditional. However, sometimes breaking with tradition once in a while is a good thing. WOW! That pretty much sums up how I felt after taking my first bite.
1 lb. penne (or favorite short tubed pasta)
2 to 3 cups whole milk, warmed up
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups Gruyère cheese, grated
2 cups extra-sharp cheddar, grated
1 1/2 lbs cooked lobster meat, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 350f.
Add pasta to a large pot of boiling salted water and cook according to the directions. Drain well. In a large pot, melt butter and add the flour. Cook and stir using a whisk over medium heat for 2 minutes – watch and make sure the roux does not burn. While whisking, add 2 cups of milk and cook until thickened and smooth. If the sauce is too thick, add more milk. Remove from heat and add the grated cheeses. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Add the cooked pasta and lobster and stir until combined. Place the mixture in individual gratin dishes, or one larger gratin dish. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and golden brown on the top.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: I like the sauce to be pourable and not too thick. This way, when you combine the lobster meat and bake in the oven, the end result is a creamy consistency. To save time, have your local fishmonger steam the lobster for you. In grocery stores, this usually is a free service. If you go this route, ask them to steam the lobster for 8 minutes for two pounds. It will finish cooking in the oven and will come out moist and tender. Enjoy!