We had a wonderful 3 day weekend here in the U.S. to celebrate and remember our soldiers for Memorial Day. I love the patriotic displays and decorations that pop up all over to mark the occasion to remember the sacrifices of the fallen who keep us all safe.
We had a great weekend getting to spend time with family and friends, and in typical Virginia fashion it was hot as blazes all weekend. I think summer weather has arrived whether we're ready for it or not. For whatever reason, I have been craving shrimp and lobster (well, maybe I always crave it because it's delicious). I recently saw this recipe for lobster mac and cheese during a repeat episode of the Barefoot Contessa and just couldn't stop thinking about it. I thought this weekend was the perfect time to track down some lobster and try it out. Well... tracking down lobster and not paying an absolute fortune on a recipe I've never made proved much harder than I planned, so I thought I would halve the amount of lobster I needed and add shrimp as well. Although I'm a huge fan of Ina Garten recipes, and have had lobster mac and cheese in restaurants, I wanted to make sure the recipe was not going to be a waste of delicious lobster until I knew what I was getting into.
Well, all my reservations were unfounded because this recipe is incredible! May I just say how thrilled I am at how this recipe turned out? Absolutely delicious! My husband and I both thought this was one of the best things we've had recently. I ended up making just half of the recipe since there are just 2 of us and it still made enough for 4 or 5 people (especially if you are serving this as a side dish). The cheese sauce with the blend of Gruyere and cheddar with a hint of nutmeg was just perfect with the seafood. It was creamy and luxurious. The golden bread crumb topping added some nice crunch and texture. I also really liked the combo of shrimp and lobster and thought the 2 types of shellfish complemented each other nicely.
I will definitely be keeping an eye out for specials on lobster and any other excuse to make this. Do you want to come over for dinner? I'll be glad to whip up some lobster mac and cheese and eat it with you. :) I promise I'll share!
1 pound cavatappi or elbow macaroni
1 quart milk
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces good extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat and shrimp (peeled and deveined) ( I used a combination of shrimp and lobster but you can also make this with only lobster), chopped into bite sized pieces
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according do 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 2 or more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon of salt, the pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and lobster and shrimp and stir well. Place mixture in 6 to 8 individual gratin dishes or in 1 large buttered casserole dish.
Melt the remaining 2 tbs. of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and stir until the crumbs are golden brown. Sprinkle on the top of the mac and cheese. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.
Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa