We’re not the kind of people who love to go out to eat much anymore, nor are we the kind that dress up to go out for wine and fine food. Having said that, we are the kind of people who will watch tv shows like “You Gotta Eat Here!” and find new things to cook at home using ingredients neither of us have ever tasted or used, including some more pricey items like good cheeses or truffles. From time to time, mind you. We aren’t the Rockefellers. 🙂
I have been clearing out a backlog of food shows lately and came across one featuring lobster mac & cheese. My husband always stops wherever he is, whatever he’s doing, when his two favourite foods in the whole world are mentioned: lobster, and mac & cheese. So, of course I had to watch the “YGEH!” Déja-Bu segment over and over till I figured out how to make our own version at home, at our own stove, with the ingredients I know I could get my hands on easily. I even studied the recipe published on the tv show’s website.
I scaled down the increments from the originating recipe because I don’t like lobster (that was strictly for the husband), and it’s just the two of us feasting. Two bowls were more than enough for one night. I stored the rest of my Mornay sauce in the fridge to make another bigger batch of baked mac & cheese tomorrow or Monday night. Probably with some chicken and vegetables thrown into it for good measure instead of the lobster.
[ The basic Mac & Cheese using just the Mornay sauce, onions and cilantro. ]
Here’s what I came up with. Play along at home if you like this recipe.
Lobster Mac & Cheese:
(Béchamel + cheese = Mornay Sauce)
1/4 C white or cooking onions, diced
2 oz butter
4 TBSP flour
1 lemongrass stalk (or three lemon rind peels)
3 C whole milk
S & P
2 oz gruyere + 1/8 C parmesan cheeses
2 C cooked pasta
1 TBSP butter
2 oz lobster meat (I used lobster flavoured white/pollack meat)
Drizzles of truffle oil (completely optional if feel you want the full Monty)
1. Start the pasta water so it boils while working on the other ingredients. Whack the lemongrass stalk along the length with the back of a big knife (or, if using a lemon instead, peel three strips of rind off) and set aside.
2. Melt the butter in a stock or sauce pan that can hold up to 5 cups of liquid easily. While that’s melting, dice up the onions. When the butter is bubbling, add the onion dice to the pot and let it cook for 3 minutes before adding the flour. Stir the mixture till it balls up and leaves the side of the pot to form the roux. Pour in 1 cup of milk at a time, whisking the roux into the liquid. Let the milk and roux heat through and thicken up, stirring occasionally so the milk doesn’t scald and burn at the bottom of the pan.
3. Add the pasta to the heavily salted pot when the water hits the boiling stage. Give the noodles a quick stir so they don’t stick or clump to each other as they cook for 8 minutes.
4. When the milk mixture is thickened enough to coat a spoon or spatula, remove the pot from the heat and start to ladle it into another bowl or pot with a mesh strainer sitting over the opening to catch the lemongrass or peels and the onions. Place this strained Bechamel back onto the burner and add the cheeses to the pot. When the cheese is fully melted, a few scoops of this Mornay sauce can then be used in a small to medium sauce pan along with two scoops of cooked pasta. Toss to coat the pasta fully.
5. Let the pasta and sauce simmer on med-low heat while melting butter in another small sauce pan. Add the lobster meat when the butter if fully melted. Toss to coat all of the meat; let it heat through (about 3 minutes).
6. Plate the pasta and sauce, and place the lobster meat over top of it, arranging the meat chunks in a pleasing arrangement on top of the noodles. Pour the butter drippings from the pan over top of the lobster, and sprinkle some rough chopped fresh herbs over that and top it all with drizzles of the truffle oil if using. Serve immediately.