(Cheaper than, but just as good)
Lobster Mac n' Cheese
Believe it or not, prior to Dec 26, 2011, I had never made a proper Mac n' Cheese. I have, in the past, made my Mom's mac with Velveeta and canned milk, and peas. Once. It was not well received by my hub, who is the mac master in this house. So, here it was, the day after Christmas, and we had our son and daughter in law and three kids under the age of 5 coming to celebrate a late Christmas. Should I trot out the leftover tenderloin, scalloped potatoes, and green bean casserole? No way. They had that meal the day before. I needed a meal that was kid and adult friendly, and not too time consuming... I was getting tired, after all the festivities, cooking, and jet lag. (Did I mention I returned from a working trip to France on the evening of the 22nd?) Anyway, I had lots of pasta in the pantry and langostino in the freezer (left over from my Pasta in the Park competition), and, a star was born. Thank you, H & B, for the mac pointers.
- 4 tablespoons butter, plus 1 tablespoon for greasing dish
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 2 shallots or 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
- 2 large cloves fresh garlic, chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 cups heavy cream and 2 cups whole milk, brought to a simmer in a separate saucepan
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes (toddlers generally don't like the heat. Go easy).
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 ounces shredded sharp white Cheddar
- 8 ounces shredded Gruyere
- 8 ounces shredded Fontina
- 2 ounces shredded Dubliner
- The important elements here, regarding the cheese mixture, is to have something creamy, like Fontina, something sharp, like white cheddar, something kind of nutty, like gruyere. I just threw in the Dubliner because it was in my fridge and too darn tasty to leave out. Use what you like!
- 4 cups Langostino meat, (defrosted if frozen), thoroughly dried
- 1/4 cup (or so) Panko bread crumbs
- 1 Tbls butter, dotted over top of bread crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and adjust racks to the middle. Grease a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with butter.
- In a large pot of boiling salted water (should taste like the sea) over medium heat, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve.
- Add 4 tablespoons butter to a large pot over medium heat. Once the butter shimmers, add the shallots and garlic and saute until translucent. Season with Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.
- Add the tomato paste and flour. Stir to toast, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the white wine and reduce about 2 minutes.
- Slowly add the hot cream and milk, whisking well to remove any lumps.
- Add the paprika, cayenne or red pepper flakes, and bay leaves. Bring the cream up to a simmer and turn the heat to low. Let reduce until the cream is thick and coats a spoon, about 5 to 10 minutes. When thickened, remove the bay leaves.
- Stir in the grated cheeses, a handful at a time, combining well after each addition.
- Add the chopped langostino meat to the sauce and stir well. Add the pasta and stir. If the mixture is too thick, add more milk until you have the consistency you want.
- Add to the greased baking dish and sprinkle with the Panko crumbs. Top all over with little dabs of butter.
- Bake for 25 - 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Happy Mac n' Cheesing!