Thomas Jefferson did not invent macaroni and cheese. Our third President was however famously obsessed with the pasta and cheese dishes he enjoyed in Europe, so much so that he had a macaroni machine delivered from Italy to Monticello in Virginia so he could serve “macaroni” (his word for any kind of pasta) to his guests.
Macaroni and cheese quickly became popular in the United States and, owing to its simplicity and undeniable “comfort food” status, was naturally given to customizations such as bacon, ham, tuna and peas, crab cakes and the ultimate addition, as crazy and as perfect as it sounds… lobster.
After just returning from a lobster-infused trip to Maine this fall, we were contacted by Joe at LobsterAnywhere.com who offered to send us a couple of fresh Maine lobsters to try out and share our feedback. The next day we received two wily 2-pound lobsters (aka “deuces”) and, after much contemplation about the best way to feature this gracious gift, Paul got to work creating one of the best Lobster Macaroni and Cheese dishes we have ever had. The lobsters were delivered in perfect condition and the quality was the same we’d just enjoyed when we were 500 miles north of Bucks County, PA just days before. This newly discovered Maine lobster source is going to save us a lot of driving when we have our next lobster macaroni and cheese craving.
- 2 lbs of lobster meat cut into 1 to 2 inch pieces.
- 1 peeled onion
- 4 cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups milk
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- ¼ cup flour
- 10 oz Dubliner Cheese (or cheddar) shredded
- ½ tbsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp grainy Dijon
- 1 tbsp regular smooth Dijon
- 1 tsp – fresh thyme
- ¾ lb Campanelle pasta (we used Barilla, ¾ box - shell or elbow macaroni may be used if preferred)
- 2 tbsp – butter
- ½ cup panko
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Be sure to start boiling the pasta and have it timed so it’s still hot when adding the béchamel sauce.
- Stud the peeled onion with 4 cloves. In a medium sized saucepan, add 2 cups of milk, the studded onion and bay leaf. Bring to a low simmer while stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes.
- Remove the studded onion and bay leaf after the 15 minutes and set the hot milk aside.
- Making a Roux: In a large pot, melt the 3 tbsp of butter over medium heat then slowly stir in the ¼ cup of flour with a small whisk. Reduce the heat to a low setting. The mixture should thicken quickly but continue to stir for about 2 minutes. It should develop a pale tan color.
- Over low heat, slowly add the hot milk to the roux while whisking. Once all of the milk is added and the béchamel is smooth, take it off the heat and add the cheese, salt, pepper, thyme and both Dijons (use more or less Dijon according to taste - if you love mustard as much as we do, add double the amount listed above).
- Add the cooked pasta and lobster and mix slowly.
- Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a small pan over low heat and add the ¼ cup of panko. Stir until butter is absorbed.
- Have 4 individual-sized baking dishes ready and place them on a baking sheet. Divide the mixture between them. Sprinkle the panko crumbs on top and bake for about 20-30 minutes until tops start to brown and sauce bubbles. Do not cook longer than this as the lobster will overcook and become chewy.
- Serve still hot from the oven and feel free to add some fresh thyme as garnish.