Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Macaroni & Cheese with Lobster

This recipe was adapted from The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever by Beatrice Ojakangas. Use freshly steamed lobster meat or frozen, cooked lobster meat that has been thoroughly defrosted. A total of 3 1/2 pounds of live lobster ought to yield enough for this recipe, or about 3 packed cups of the cooked meat.

Ingredients

Salt
8 ounces dried elbow macaroni
2 medium garlic cloves
2 medium shallots
1 pound cooked lobster meat
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese (divided use)
1 cup freshly grated Gruyère cheese
4 ounces low-fat (but not nonfat) cream cheese
2 cups low-fat milk (or substitute heavy cream)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup panko (Japanese-style) bread crumbs (may substitute fine plain dried bread crumbs)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly grease a shallow, 3-quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add macaroni and cook according to package directions. Drain; reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Mince garlic and shallots; they can be combined and should total about 1⁄3 cup. Coarsely chop lobster meat.

Meanwhile, fill a large saucepan with about 2 inches water; heat over medium-high heat.

Combine Cheddar, 1 cup Parmesan, Gruyère and cream cheese in a stainless-steel (or heatproof) mixing bowl that will just fit over the top of the saucepan (so that water will not touch bottom of bowl). Once cheeses start to melt, add milk or cream and stir gently; this process will take about 10 minutes total. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.

Pour heated water out of saucepan, then add butter and melt it over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots; cook 2 minutes, until softened, then add lobster meat and cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until just heated through.

Pour reserved pasta cooking water over macaroni to loosen it (still in the colander); drain, then add macaroni to saucepan and stir to coat with butter. Add cheese mixture and stir to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer to prepared casserole dish and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and bread crumbs. Bake uncovered for about 10 minutes, or until topping is golden brown. (If topping does not brown, run casserole under broiler for a few minutes; watch closely to see it does not burn.)

Makes 4 to 6 generous servings.
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