If you’ve been dreaming about a dish where the essence of fresh lobster is extracted, squeezed and concentrated into one delicious gratin, well… you can wake up now. I’m gonna show you how.
Let me clarify first that we are not talking about the abomination of folding lobster meat into mac and cheese here. We’re talking about using every part of the lobster to layer and accentuate its flavor in a spectacular lobster and macaroni gratin. We start by cooking our crustacean friends in a court-bouillon to impart the meat with flavor. Next we separate the heads and chop them up before browning them in a stockpot with aromatics and deglazing the pot with Cognac. Next we add cream to make a very delicious lobster broth. The pasta is cooked al dente and finished in the reduced lobster ‘cream’ along with chunks of lobster (and in this case, ramp greens), grated Comté cheese is sprinkled over the gratins and the whole thing goes under the broiler for a few minutes until it forms a nice bubbly crust on the top. Hungry yet?
Wait a few minutes to take the first bite and the rest of the story is pure bliss. I would much rather call it lobster butter than lobster mac & cheese. Except it doesn’t contain any butter. It surely feels like it though. Must be all that cream. And lobster. Am i talking to myself again?
One more great thing about this dish is that it can be made and assembled ahead of time and simply broiled when your guests are seating down at the dinner table. Serve with a nice green salad and have a good time.
Lobster Mac & Cheese Recipe
- serves 6
For the lobster:
- 3 lobsters, cooked in a court-bouillon
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1/2 cup cognac
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 8 ounces whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, tarragon and bay leaf tied together)
- 3 cups heavy cream
- salt and pepper, to taste
For the gratin:
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni
- lobster meat from 2 lobsters (above), cubed
- ramp greens (optional)
- Comté cheese, grated
For the lobster broth and meat:
- Separate the cooked lobster heads from the bodies, chop the lobster heads and cube the lobster meat and reserve.
- In a deep stockpot, heat the olive oil over high heat and add the chopped lobster heads. Brown for a few minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add the chopped carrots, celery, onion and garlic and keep cooking until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Deglaze with the Cognac and carefully set aflame with a match. When the flames die down, add the white wine and reduce. Add the tomato paste and the crushed whole peeled tomatoes and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the bouquet garni and the heavy cream. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes at a very gentle simmer. Turn off the heat and let it cool for 15 minutes.
- At this point, if you have a hand held blender you can remove and discard the tough lobster part and blend the mixture until roughly blended before straining it through a chinois or strainer. If you don’t have a hand held blender, strain the mixture making sure to push hard on the solids to extract all the juices. You should obtain a lobster ‘cream’ more or less the same consistency as a cheese sauce. Reduce if too thin to concentrate the flavors. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
For the gratin:
- Cook the macaroni ‘al dente’ and add it to the lobster ‘cream’.
- If using ramp greens or any other kind of greens, sautee them quickly in butter before adding the cubed lobster meat. Adjust seasoning and toss with the macaroni and lobster ‘cream’.
- Scoop the mixture in individual gratin dishes or one large one. Sprinkle the Comte over the top in an even layer.
- When ready to serve, broil for a few minutes until a nice crust has formed and bubbly on top. Serve with a mixed green salad.