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Lobster Mac and Cheese

The Challenge:


This week, we only had one recipe (thank God), Lobster Mac and Cheese, which you can find here or on page 155 of Foolproof.


Lea's Take:

Mr. Good Eater was really excited about this one. We might've deprived him all these years, never offering lobster. That's probably my fault. The one and only time I've eaten lobster was on a trip to Key West. My BIL found $100 on the ground and he treated us all to lobster. What a guy, amirite? Anyway, when I tried to open (is that the right word?) the lobster to get the meat out, all the poop and whatever else was inside that crustacean came out onto my plate. [Mary: From the interwebs: "The soft, green substance at the end of the tail is tomalley. It functions as both the liver and pancreas." You're welcome. Also? That was a great trip...thanks for getting married in FL, Dean and Megs!] [Lea: I believe Dina called it "poop".]


I was done.


I also used to get this one pasta dish at a restaurant downtown, which I think had lobster in it, but the only thing I remember was that they would put the head of the lobster on top of the dish like a garnish. A carcass as a garnish! Gaah!


All that to say, lobster is not for me. Actually, any of those types of seafood (crab, even shrimp) are not for me. But I made it anyway.


The recipe calls for 1-1/2 pounds of cooked lobster meat. Our vanilla grocery store does not stock lobster year-round (which I guess makes sense), so we had to do with imitation lobster meat (Ina, I'm sorry) [Mary: I, like, wanted to literally diiiiie when she told me what she was using. Could she possibly ruin one of my favorite dishes more? "Did you make the lobster mac & cheese?" "No, I made macaroni and fish."]. [Lea: Heeeeeeeee. Although macaroni and fish reminds me of that dish Mom used to make with leftover Kraft mac&cheese and tuna fish.]

[Lea: If this picture was used to make fun of me, it won't work. That looks great.]


The ingredients in this imitation lobster meat, I'm sorry to say, start with Alaska Pollock, then water, then a bunch of things not remotely related to lobster and "2% or less of lobster meat." Great (for me, not for Mr. Good Eater).


We are always looking for a good mac & cheese recipe, one that's the most like Stouffer's (don't judge me). Years ago, my friend Stef made one that I loved, but when I asked her for the recipe, she wasn't sure which one she used, so I've been searching for one like it ever since. I trust Ina and figured if this one was any good, we could use it again, minus the (fake) lobster.


Ina uses Gruyère (of course) and extra sharp cheddar. I think Mary was on the right track, getting her Gruyère at Costco. We have been using it A LOT. Unfortunately, we bought smoked Gruyère for this recipe. [Mary: Why can't I get the SMH emoji to work on this damblog?] Let me just tell you, I hate smoked anything: meat, cheese, whatever. It does not have a good aftertaste for me and I was worried I would hate this dinner.


We were going to make this meal on a Wednesday, to keep with our "no meat on Wednesdays and Fridays", but Mary thought this might be too rich as a main meal. Instead, I made it as a side dish to pot roast. Look at me, 2 recipes in one night!


As an aside, my pot roast was delish.


I wouldn't say this recipe was all that complicated, but I try to be a good student and do exactly as it says. [Mary: Unless it says, "Get real lobster".] [Lea: Right. Except that.] The recipe says to heat the milk, but don't boil it. So, I didn't turn the heat up all the way like I would normally. Which made it take FOREVER to get hot. And while I was watching my milk (not) get hot, I sort of scorched the butter and flour mixture.


I didn't have 6-8 individual gratin dishes (Christmas present!), so I put it all in one big baking dish. It looked pretty and cheesy (or pretty cheesy):

Mary's Take:

I was so excited to make this recipe! Raise your hand if you've been to The Capital Grille. It's one of my very favorite steakhouses...you know the kind where you spend $45 on a steak and have to pay $11 extra for a baked potato? But I don't mind...because going to The Capital Grille means I can have my very favorite side dish: their Lobster Mac 'N' Cheese (which is a bargain at $18)!


As much as I wanted to make vats of this, I halved the recipe. I, like Lea, served it as a side dish to beef in the form of filet mignon and roasted Brussels sprouts. [Lea: Of course she did.] I was clearly going for the full steakhouse experience. I purchased my lobster from Whole Foods, who coincidentally had it on sale last week. I was a little hesitant to buy frozen, but the seafood person (fishmonger?) said it's the same one they sell from the case. (If I was a good, thoughtful, insightful sister, I would have bought Lea's lobster for her. Turns out I'm none of those things.) [Lea: Yeah, thanks.]

If I have lots of odds and ends cheeses in the fridge, I make Ina's regular mac and cheese from my first of her cookbooks: Barefoot Contessa Family Style. Making the lobster version is almost identical, but with the addition of, well, lobster.


First, make the roux: melt butter and whisk in flour. Let the flour cook for a minute to get rid of the raw flour taste, then add hot milk. Most recipes call for dumping in the milk all at once and letting it thicken as it cooks. I like to add the milk in small amounts and whisk after each addition. It's fun to watch and I find that it thickens faster. [Lea: That's what she considers fun?!]


After it's good and saucy, take it off the heat and add the grated cheeses, nutmeg and pepper.

After everything is all melty and delicious-looking, add the cooked pasta and lobster. I also do not have individual gratin dishes (but my friend Sandi does...she bought them while we were at a porcelain shop in Paris...it's obvious to me now I should have brought some home, too!), so I made mine in one dish as well.


The Verdict:


Lea: Well, I thought it was great. I didn't eat the lobster, though. Heh. I didn't even notice (too much) the smokey aftertaste. And it didn't warm up well the next day, like every other mac & cheese recipe I've ever made, but the flavor was still good. (That was a lot of "didn'ts" all in a row.)

Josh: This is fantastic. (He might've been talking about my pot roast, though.)

Mr. Good Eater: This is actually pretty good. (Score!)

Mr. Picky Pants: I don't like it. (Shocker.)


Mary: You'll not be surprised that John and I both loved this. The lobster provides a buttery sweetness that elevates this from comfort to elegance. [Lea: Insert eye roll.] I would still not recommend it as a meal; it's too rich for that. But as a side, it's perfect. I may have let mine bake a tad too long since it's less creamy than I like.

It felt a little like we'd been transported back to a time long ago (dampandemic) where we could go with friends to a nice dinner. In the meantime, it'll do nicely.


Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!


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2 Comments


sandifrost
Nov 26, 2020

Yummmmmm! My mouth is watering for your Lobster Mac and Cheese. I miss our dinners at Capital Grill but this seems like a good substitute. Now just come down so you can make some for us (I’ll let you use my gratin dishes😊). Happy Thanksgiving, friends!!

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dina.demas
Nov 26, 2020

Yum ladies! And I did indeed call the lobster greens poop! Lea, I haven't been able to eat a whole lobster since that day either, I totally get it! 😂


Happy Thanksgiving! Love you both!

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