Lobster and Shrimp Mac N Cheese
If you are like me, then chances are pretty good that you are a little intimidated by cooking lobster. After all cooking seafood can be a little tricky and lobster is pricey. I was at the grocery store one day and I saw that lobster tails were on sale. I figured I could get a couple and try my hand at this delectable treat.
After a quick google search I found that boiling them would be the easiest way for me too cook them. So, I invited a friend over and boiled a couple tails and roasted some potatoes. It was amazing! And, oh so easy. A few months later I decided to cook lobster for my non-seafood eating boyfriend. (I would like to add that he will now eat whatever seafood I make for him.) I did the exact same thing. He loved it!
A few months later we wanted lobster again. But, we also wanted something different. I was still intimidated by the idea of broiling a lobster tail, I was dead set against cooking a whole lobster, and I don't have access to a grill in my little apartment. So, we googled lobster recipes and we came across lobster mac n cheese. I had seen it on a menu once and wanted to try it, but it was way too expensive to try something I wasn't sure I would like. We both decided that we needed to try this recipe. We needed to put this lobster mac n cheese in our lives.
We made some adjustments to the original recipe we found on-line. My grocery store didn't have shallots in stock when we went shopping, so we used garlic. The recipe called for 2 whole lobsters. Well, that is a little expensive and I don't think I could cook a live lobster. We got two tails and then added some white shrimp to help make up for the meat missing from using two whole lobsters. The recipe also called for the chives to be sprinkled on top before serving, and I like the flavor they give when cooked with garlic so I put them in at the beginning. I also wanted to add some texture to the meal so I sprinkled a mix of seasoned and non-seasoned breadcrumbs on top before I put it in the oven.
We had never had to go to the fancy cheese section of the grocery store. It was like a foreign land. Thankfully, there was a very nice person working the cheese counter that was able to help us select the best cheeses for our dinner. He had recommended and aged British white cheddar and to use pre-shreaded sharp cheddar, since we really didn't want to have to take out a loan to make dinner... That aged white cheddar is now our favorite cheese for cheese and crackers. The gruyere we had found on our own (the second time we made this awesome recipe the guy at the counter helped us find a gruyere that was on sale, which was very nice of him.) and it changed our lives. I feel that it really makes this recipe feel like a million dollars.
One thing I think we did that added a lot of flavor was to add wine. I added a splash of white wine as the shrimp were finishing cooking. Of course it was the same wine that we drank with dinner. I felt that it paired very well with the fancy cheese.
Cooking Lobster Tails
For this recipe I think that boiling the lobster tails would be the easiest. Its easy. Just bring a pot of water to a boil. Once the water is boiling add the lobster tails. If you run a wooden or metal skewer through them they won't curl as much when they cook. Then, let the tails boil for 1 minute per ounce. So, if you have a tail that if 5 oz you will cook it for 5 minutes. If you have three tails that are 8 oz you will cook them for 8 minutes, not 24!
When the tails are cool remove them from the water. You will then need to remove the meat from the shell. Personally, I just let it cool a little and then I use my fingers to break off the shell. Some people use kitchen scissors. But, I like the hands on approach. Just make sure that you are careful as some pieces of shell can be sharp and the entire tail will be hot.
Once the meat is clear of the shell simple cut into small pieces. I like to vary them in size, typically making the largest no bigger than 1 inch.
Money Saving Tips
Check your local grocery store for sales and specials on lobsters or lobster tails. I've noticed that once every 6 weeks or so my store will have a special on lobster tails. I talked with the gentleman at the seafood counter and he let me know that if you package the tails properly they will be fine in the freezer for up to three weeks. Just makes sure that you thaw them for about a day before you want to use them.
Using pre-shredded bagged sharp cheddar will save you several dollars on cheese. The bag cost at $2.5, whereas .5lb of sharp cheddar at the cheese counter would set me back about $8. Chances are also fairly good that I would need more than .5lb of the sharp cheddar.
If you don't use a lot of heavy cream buy the smallest carton you can. That way, you don't have to spend an arm and a leg on something you won't use after this meal and it won't go to waste.
The first time we made this dish we used two lobster tails and about a 1lb of shrimp. The second time we made this we used about a 1lb of shrimp and two bags of imitation lobster meat. The grocery store was out of lobster tails, which wasn't surprising since they were on sale. I had been wondering if the imitation meat tasted anything like real lobster. I can honestly tell you that we didn't taste a difference. I even cooked the imitation meat with the shrimp. To put it into perspective: the tails were on sale for $5 for a 5 oz tail and I would need two tails, the imitation lobster meat was on sale for 2/$5. I saved $5 by using the imitation meat.
- 1 lb Pasta
- 3 Tbps Butter
- 4 Cloves Garlic, Fresh
- 3 Tbps Flour
- 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
- 2 Cups Milk
- 8 Oz White Cheddar, Grated
- 4 Oz Gruyere, Grated
- 2 Cups Sharp Cheddar, Grated
- 2 Lobster Tails
- 1 Lb Shrimp
- 1/2 Cup Chives, Chopped
- Preheat oven to 350
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Then add the pasta and cook according to the directions.
- Melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Once the butter is melted add the garlic and the chives and sauté until soft.
- Add the flour and stir until mixed. Then add the milk. Make sure to stir constantly and bring to a slight boil.
- Add the cream, dijon, and the cheeses.
- Remove from heat and add the pasta and meats.
- Pour into a large baking dish.
- Bake until golden Typically between 20-25 minutes.
I really like this recipe. I feel that it is fancy, and really makes my cooking skills look phenomenal. My boyfriend really likes to help me in the kitchen as often as he can and I always need this help with this recipe since timing is so important. He grates the cheese while I start making the sauce and tend to the meats. And having someone's help to add the ingredients to the cooking sauce makes it a lot easy to keep the stirring consistent to keep the sauce from burning.
This dish is a bit pricy to make. Plan on spending at least $45, could be more or less depending on what groceries you already have at home. But, it makes a lot. Both times we made it there were enough leftovers for days. It came out to about 3 dinners and 3-4 lunches. That comes down to about $7.5 per meal. I can spend more at Panera.
If you make this for your next dinner your friends and family will be impressed. Not to mention, you will simply fall in love with the cheesy goodness.
A meal this good needs to be followed up with a dessert that is equally impressive. I took simple box brownie mix and raspberry wine. I used the egg and vegetable oil as called for on the box. But, I substituted the water for raspberry dessert wine. I even added an extra splash, because I really wanted the brownies to have the raspberry flavor.
You could smell the raspberry while the brownies were baking and it was amazing. I topped it with fresh raspberries and paired with a glass of the raspberry dessert wine. It was amazing! The perfect way to end the meal.