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I don’t know how many people would actually think of mac and cheese when they think of gourmet food. Mac and cheese, to me, was always a comfort food or cookout/BBQ staple. So, when I first saw lobster mac and cheese on the menu at Capital Grille, I knew I had to try it. For one, I had to know how a fine dining establishment would interpret mac and cheese. For another, there is always a good chance that I may never be able to afford this kind of meal again. These are troubled times, and I’m not a broke baker for nothing!
With that in mind, I took the plunge. What came next was an experience that would forever change my view on mac and cheese. They serve it in a small, cast iron skillet, still bubbly and hot out of the oven. There are large chunks of lobster in the dish, each one succulent, buttery, and tender. Before this, I was strongly against bread crumb topping on mac and cheese. The panko crust on their mac and cheese made me a believer. O God of Mac and Cheese, forgive me, for I have sinned.
I resolved to find a recipe and recreate the mac and cheese goodness at home. After scouring the web, I came across a recipe with some promise. The end result, while delicious, was not the same. That was a year ago. Finally, at the urging of a friend who frequently craves the dish (and a very fortunately timed sale on lobster meat), I took another look online to see if I could find a recipe that seemed closer to the real deal. Then I got to work.
This baby uses 4 different types of cheeses. If you can’t find Grana Padano, then Parmigiano Reggiano will also work.
Prep all of your ingredients for the lobster mac and cheese. You’ll need the shredded cheeses, lobster meat, diced shallots, minced garlic, pasta, and heavy cream. Shredding the cheese probably takes the most time. I used pre-shelled lobster meat, but getting lobster tails and shelling them yourself is probably better. I noticed that this lobster meat had a different look and feel than the ones I’ve shelled on my own before.
Place the cream in a sauce pan with some salt and bring to a boil. Simmer until it starts to thicken.
While your cream simmers, cook your pasta. Don’t cook it all the way. Boil it for about half the time that the instructions call for. You want it to still be kind of hard. Don’t worry, it will cook the rest of the way later.
Once your cream has thickened slightly, start adding the cheese. Do it little by little. This helps keep the mixture smooth. Save half of the Grana Padano for topping the mac and cheese.
Now, saute your shallots in some butter until translucent. Add your garlic, then your lobster. Saute your lobster for 2-3 minutes. DO NOT cook it all the way through. If you do, you’ll end up with rubbery lobster in the end product.
Remove the lobster from the heat and stir in the pasta. Pour in your cheese sauce, and stir until well combined. Pour it into a casserole dish or 13 x 9 pan.
Now, top your dish with the rest of the Grana Padano cheese and a generous sprinkling of panko bread crumbs. Then off to the oven it goes!
It only needs about 8 minutes, plus any additional time under the broiler to brown the top.
It can be a meal on its own, or serve it as a side dish!
To be perfectly honest, I can’t really remember exactly how the lobster mac and cheese from Capital Grille tasted. But, after my first bite of this one, I don’t even care. This was creamy, gooey heaven. If you are a true mac and cheese lover, then you need to try this recipe at least once. Yes, it is a bit pricey to make. But, every bite was OH SO worth it!
Lobster Mac and Cheese (adapted from The Rhode Show)
- 1 qt heavy cream
- 1lb campanelle paste (I used cavatappi)
- 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
- 8 oz Mascarpone cheese
- 8 oz shredded Grana Padano cheese, divided
- 4 oz shredded Havarti cheese
- 4 oz shredded white cheddar cheese
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 shallots, diced
- 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1lb lobster meat, cut into large chunks
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place cream and salt in saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and and simmer for 20 min. Whisk in the mascarpone, havarti, cheddar and half of the Grana Padano until well combined.
Cook your pasta in boiling water for about half the time indicated in the packaging. Drain.
Melt the butter in a large sauce pan. Add the shallots and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the lobster chunks and cook for 2-3 minutes, until they start turning opaque.
Combine the lobster mixture with the pasta in a large bowl or pot. Add the cheese mixture and stir to combine.
Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish or 13 x 9 inch pan. Top with the remaining Grana Padano cheese and panko. Bake in the preheated oven for about 8 minutes, or until the top is brown and bubbly. Serve the lobster mac and cheese hot.