The end of 2008 saw a drop in demand for lobster, and its prices fell accordingly. One result: This particular treatment is affordable as a weeknight dish and suitably decadent enough to serve as a New Year's Eve main course.
Use freshly steamed lobster meat or frozen, cooked lobster meat that has been thoroughly defrosted. A total of 3 1/2 pounds of live lobster (say, a 1 1/2-pounder and a 1-pounder) ought to yield enough for this recipe, or about 3 packed cups of the cooked meat.
Serve with sauteed haricots verts.
Servings: 4 - 6 generous
- 8 ounces dried elbow macaroni pasta
- 2 medium cloves garlic
- 2 medium shallots
- 1 pound cooked lobster meat (see headnote; if using frozen lobster meat, defrost thoroughly)
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup freshly grated Gruyère cheese
- 4 ounces low-fat cream cheese (do not use nonfat)
- 2 cups low-fat milk or heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Salt (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup panko (japanese-style) bread crumbs (may substitute fine plain dried bread crumbs)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a shallow, 3-quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking oil spray.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook according to package directions. Drain; reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
Mince the garlic and the shallots; they can be combined and should total about 1/3 cup. Coarsely chop the lobster meat.
Meanwhile, fill a large saucepan with about 2 inches of water; heat over medium-high heat.
Combine the cheddar cheese, 1 cup of the Parmesan, the Gruyere and the cream cheese in a stainless-steel (or heatproof) mixing bowl that will just fit over the top of the medium saucepan (so that the water will not touch the bottom of the bowl). Once the cheeses start to melt, add the milk or cream and stir gently; this process will take about 10 minutes total. Remove from the heat; cover to keep warm.
Pour out the heated water from the saucepan, then add the butter and melt it in the saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallots; cook for 2 minutes, until softened, then add the lobster meat and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until just heated through.
Pour the reserved pasta cooking water over the macaroni (still in the colander) to loosen it; drain, then add the macaroni to the saucepan and stir to coat with the butter. Add the cheese mixture and stir to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer to the prepared casserole dish, sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and the bread crumbs. Bake uncovered for about 10 minutes or until the topping is golden brown (if the topping does not brown, run the casserole under the broiler for a few minutes; watch closely to make sure it does not burn). Serve hot.
Adapted from "The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever," by Beatrice Ojakangas (Chronicle, 2008).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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