The first time I ever had lobster-Gruyere mac and cheese was at Purple Café and Wine Bar in Seattle. Normally, I am somewhat careful about eating a ton of fattening food, but I downed the entire, heaping portion served to me that night and did not regret one, single bite! It was so velvety and decadent and scrumptious. We have recreated this dish in our kitchen and love the results! Made with shallots, white wine, creamy and nutty Gruyere cheese, and chunks of lobster meat, this dish is pure indulgence in comfort food!
We love lobster, but rarely cook it at home, unless we’re making this delicious mac ‘n cheese or paella. Lobster is a special occasion fare and perfect for special holidays. In fact, when I was a newlywed, I tried cooking live lobster for a special, romantic dinner, but ended screaming and running from the room, calling for my husband to come to rescue us … the lobster and me!
Although I used the largest pot I had at the time, it turned out to be way too small. Not only was the lobster squealing, but I was also screaming in terror for the poor fellow. That was my one and only attempt at cooking live lobster, and I don’t miss it at all.
Nowadays, when I cook lobster, I make sure it’s not alive, and steam it in a French steamer or grill it on the barbecue. Steaming is the best way to cook lobster for this dish because it retains the moisture so well. Also, I discovered Campanelle pasta, which is a kind of cone-shaped pasta with ruffled edges. It’s so much fun in this dish because the edges pick up a little bit of crispiness – a great contrast to the otherwise creamy texture. But, you can use your favorite pasta shape for this dish. This recipe is perfect for a special Valentine’s dinner.💕
Lobster-Gruyere Mac ‘n Cheese
- 14 oz. macaroni or your favorite shaped-pasta cooked to al dente (I just love Campanelle for this dish. It is a cone-shaped pasta with ruffled edges.)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 medium shallots or one small onion peeled and finely chopped
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 1/2 cups of milk
- 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 lb. lobster meat cooked (this took two 8 oz. lobster tails for me to arrive at 1/2 pound of meat, but you might ask your fishmonger for his or her advice)
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine or sherry
- 1 cup panko or bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Prepare a 2-2½ quart casserole dish by spraying with cooking spray. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add panko and stir until well coated with the melted butter. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water until al dente. Strain out all of the liquid and put the pasta back into the pot. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over pasta and toss well. This keeps the pasta from getting clumpy. Set aside until cheese sauce is ready.
Cook the lobster:
- With kitchen shears, cut through the hard, rounded side of the shell all the way to the tail fan, being careful not to cut through any of the meat. With both hands, pull the shell apart until the tail meat begins to pop slightly out of the shell. Place lobster tails in the basket of a French Steamer, cut side up, and place the steamer basket in a pot over 2-inches of water. Place a couple of lemon slices in the water. Bring to a boil and steam for about 5 minutes, or until the lobster is opaque, slightly puffy, and cooked through. Be careful not to overcook, which will dry out the meat. Remove lobster from the steamer basket and cool completely before removing it from the shell. Once cool enough to handle, remove meat from the shell and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
- Heat butter in a 2-quart saucepan. Add shallots (or onions) and cook over medium-low heat, just until translucent, about 5 minutes. Slowly stir flour into the butter-shallot mixture with a wire whisk to make a roux. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook, stirring often, for about 3-4 minutes, until it just begins to take on a slightly nutty smell. This gives the roux a nice, rich flavor.
- Slowly add the milk, a little bit at a time, stirring all the while, until milk is fully integrated into the roux and there are no lumps of flour. Continue to cook over medium heat until the sauce just comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Add grated cheese and stir until completely melted. Add white wine or sherry and stir into the sauce. Finally, add the cooked lobster pieces and stir well.
- Pour the lobster-cheese sauce over cooked pasta and stir well to coat all of the pasta with the sauce. Turn the mac ‘n cheese mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
- Evenly distribute bread crumbs over the entire casserole and bake at 350 F for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until cheese sauce is bubbly and panko topping is golden-brown. Serve piping hot!