Chef’s Recipe: Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese

Adem’s gnarled staff fell to the ground with a resounding thunk. Eying the feast before him, his mouth nearly curled in upon itself in smile.

“How did you combine my two favorite things?” Was all her asked before running ahead of the group.

Growing up in Maine means I eat a lot of lobster. I know that sounds elitist, but when prices get so low it is cheaper to buy lobster instead of chicken, you end up getting it. But when it is so cheap, it often gets boring to eat steamed lobster after steamed lobster so I tend to fallback onto one of my favorites: Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese.

The secret to making smooth, velvety cheese sauce isn’t using a shelf stable mixture like Velveeta, it’s about harnessing heat to your control. Once you’ve made the base for your sauce, you should remove it from the heat entirely before mixing in the cheeses.

But the best part about this recipe is how pretentious you can make it sound thanks to throwing around terms like roux, mornay, and béchamel!

And for people who don’t like lobster, you can easily omit it and make an excellent regular mac n cheese as well!

Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese
Makes 2 main servings or 3-4 small side servings

Ingredients
1 cup of elbow pasta
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of  flour
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of  garlic
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
1/3 cup of milk
1 cup of shredded cheddar-Gruyere cheese
6-8 ounces of picked lobster meat

Equipment
A saucepan
Whisk
Pot

Directions
Shred the block of cheese until you have 1 cup of cheese and set aside. I personally dislike using pre-shredded cheese because the anti-caking agents can give the cheese sauce a gritty texture. Once shredded, set aside and allow it to come to room temperature.

Prepare the pasta according to its directions while making the cheese sauce. When it is done, set aside.

In the saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat with the paprika. Once melted, saute the picked lobster meat until warm. Remove the lobster from the pan, but keep the remaining butter.

Next step is making the roux. A roux is an even mixture of butter and flour by weight – not volume. Roux works as a thickening agent that gives depth of flavor while allowing you to avoid issues like clumps of uncooked flour and that dusty taste that comes from uncooked flour. Whisking constantly over a medium heat, allow the roux to turn into darker shade (the paprika prevents traditional color guides from working). But watch it carefully, as it can quickly burn.

As soon as the roux darkens a few shades, add the milk and continue whisking until smooth. This core sauce is effectively a béchamel sauce (minus the paprika) and one of the five mother sauces. Who says we never teach you anything here? Continue whisking until it begins to bubble and add in the garlic, salt and pepper. If the mixture feels too thick, add more milk as the cheese will thicken it even further.

Once the sauce is fully incorporated, remove it from heat. In small batches, whisk in the cheese. Do not add new cheese until the last handful has been fully melted into the sauce. Dumping all the cheese in at once can result in too much of a temperature change that can turn the cheese sauce a less savory texture. Once all the cheese has been mixed in, combine the cheese sauce, pasta and lobster meat together.