Health nuts, avert your eyes. We’re going all in today.
(But if you’re still reading, I would just like to say that I used whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs. It was the least I could do.)
Today’s dish is so creamy and decadent that you’ll want to call in sick to work in advance for the abundant amount of mac and cheese you’re about to consume. But you’ll cry tears of joy and tell yourself it was worth it.
Dramatic, I know.
Mac and cheese is my all-time, hands down favorite
main side dish that has become my restaurant litmus test. It’s a factor in how much I will frequent a restaurant, and over the years I’ve spent a lot of time trying to replicate recipes from places I’ve loved the most.
I’ve learned three important lessons about good mac and cheese recipes:
- It comes down to the type and quality of cheese you use. Whether you’re making a four cheese dish or only using one cheese, the flavor of your cheese will be the flavor of your dish. If possible, try to sample the cheese before you purchase. If you’re not happy with the outcome, try another cheese until you find the one that works best for your taste buds. For this recipe, I use a high-end sharp cheddar. It’s worth the splurge!
- The roux. A roux is formed by combining flour and a fat (oil, butter, grease) and letting it gradually thicken. The roux is the “base” of the dish and is what makes your mac and cheese so creamy. If not made correctly, it can make your mac and cheese lumpy. I mean, I’d still eat it, but you know…let’s do it right.
- Be patient. Making homemade mac and cheese from scratch can be time consuming and there’s a lot of stirring involved. But just think of how standing over that steam for ten minutes is like a part of a facial you didn’t have to pay for.
So without further ado…
- 1 lb rotini pasta
- 4 tbsp butter, plus 1 tbsp
- 4 tbsp flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 1/2 cups high end sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
- 1 1/2 lbs lobster meat, cooked and chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- non-stick spray
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp of butter over medium heat. When melted, add panko breadcrumbs and toast until golden brown. Set aside.
- Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente, drain, and set aside.
- In a large pot, melt the remaining 4 tbsp of butter over medium heat. Combine flour, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder, then add to melted butter. Whisk until blended. Slowly pour in milk and cream, alternatively, while stirring. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and stir for an additional 8-10 minutes. Slowly add shredded cheese and keep stirring until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Remove from heat and gently fold the pasta and lobster in with the sauce.
- Spray a 9x9 baking dish with non-stick spray, and then pour in the mac and cheese. Top with roasted panko breadcrumbs and bake uncovered for 10-12 minutes. Let cool 5-10 minutes before serving.
- For the lobster, you can use frozen lobster tails and cook in boiling, salted water for 8-9 minutes until the shell is pink and meat is tender.