Lobster Mac and Cheese

There are those days where nothing seems to go the way you want them to.  Sometimes the world is caving in around you and all you want is a good book, a blanket, probably a glass of wine and that comfort food you always turn to in times of trouble.  For me, that comfort has always been macaroni and cheese.

It was always one of my favorite meals when i was little.  Maybe because I didn’t like a lot of what my mom would cook, but this was one thing that I really did.  When I went off to school, I didn’t cook myself, so when I wanted to feel like I was home again, I would make that mac and cheese in a box.  Economically delicious, with that touch of home that I needed.

So last weekend, I was seriously thinking macaroni and cheese when my husband suggested we buy a lobster for dinner.  Of course I always love lobster, but I wanted my comfort food.  And then the light bulb went off over my head and I realized I could have my cake and eat it too, or in this case make Lobster Mac and Cheese.   It was delightfully decadent and comfy all at the same time.

There is nothing better than a good book, a blanket and a glass of wine to make me feel better.  Oh yes…and a nice bowl of Lobster Mac and Cheese.   It’s just like a big hug from your mom, telling you that everything will be okay.

And it will.

Lobster Mac and Cheese

Prep Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 2 pound lobster or two 1 1/4 lb lobsters
  • 1 pound penne or pasta of your choice
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 cups Gruyere cheese, plus more for topping
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Hot sauce (to taste, I use Frank’s Hot Sauce)
  • Worchestershire sauce, to taste
  • 1/2-1 cup crushed potato chips

Instructions

  1. Cook lobster(s) in boiling salted water approximately 10 minutes. Remove lobster and reserve 1 cup of the water. Discard the rest of the water and allow lobster to cool to room temperature, remove shell and chop lobster meat into large chunks. Set aside.

  2. Add enough salt (I usually add about a palm full of salt) to 10 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to directions. Drain and set aside.

  3. In the same pot, add the heavy cream. the crushed garlic and the reserved water.. Bring to a simmer and add Gruyère cheese and Dijon mustard, stirring until cheese is well blended. Add cheddar and parmesan and continue stirring until all cheeses have melted and are blended with the cream. Add hot sauce and Worcestershire, adding more for personal taste. Season with salt and white pepper. (you can use black pepper but I don’t like to see the specks in this dish) Add pasta and remove from heat. Let rest for 10-15 minutes. Remove garlic and add lobster meat, stirring to mix.

  4. Place in either a casserole dish or individual au gratin dishes and top with more cheese and crushed potato chips. Heat in oven until bubbly, approximately 15-20 minutes.

  5. Serve immediately.

Bacon Marmalade with Piquant Pimento Cheese

I was looking through a magazine the other day and there was a photograph of an appetizer that really interested me and I wanted to try.  It was a jar that was half filled with pimento cheese and topped with a bacon marmalade.  I’m sure there are variations of this everywhere, but I have never seen one.  My only problem was,  there was no recipe.  Thank you to the internet and cookbooks,  it wasn’t an issue.

Let me regress for just a moment.  I have to say that I think bacon should have its own food group.  Let’s face it, everything is better with bacon.  And I know,  even all you diet fanatics will agree with me.  Face it….what’s a few more miles to run when you have bacon on your plate?  You know it’s worth it.  Bacon has found its place in our world.  We have chocolate with bacon, bacon and eggs, bacon candy, bacon wrapped everything……. and now, we have bacon marmalade.  Yes, after making this, I will tell you that this is worth the extra five miles you will have to run. Pair it with pimento cheese and another five or six-mile run and we have a winner….. and you will thank me for it!

The Piquant Pimento Cheese was from my friend Patrick Evans-Hylton’s new cookbook, “DISHING UP VIRGINIA”.  For the past several weeks I’ve had an obsession with making pimento cheese and I’m not sure why because I’ve not been one that really ate pimento cheese.  Having made this however, I am now a huge fan and will use this in so many ways, because it is that good.

The bacon marmalade was adapted from a couple of online recipes, the stronger part coming from Lance Mayhew.  I looked more to his idea because he had bourbon in it and seriously….what could be better than that?    This turned out to be everything I imagined it would.  In this we have bacon smokiness, sweet, salty, and a little kick.  I could not only see this with the pimento cheese on a cracker but on a burger,  with the pimento as a grilled cheese sandwich, on a steak….you name it.

Try this recipe, buy Patrick’s book and definitely combine everything you make with bacon marmalade.  Bacon…the new food group.

Bacon Marmalade with Piquant Pimento Cheese

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 12 minutes

Ingredients

PIQUANT PIMENTO CHEESE

  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (1 cup)
  • 4 ounces white cheddar cheese (1 cup)
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

BACON MARMALADE

  • 1 1/2 pounds smoked bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup bourbon ( I used Jack Daniels)
  • 6 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 cups freshly brewed coffee
  • 6 dashes hot sauce (I used Frank’s)
  • 6 grinds fresh black pepper

Instructions

  1. For the Piquant Pimento Cheese
  2. Combine the sharp cheddar, white cheddar, bell pepper and onion in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk the mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, celery seed, black pepper and cayenne together in a medium bowl; then pour over the cheese mixture. Mix well and taste, adjusting mayonnaise and seasonings for texture and flavor. Refrigerate at least two hours before serving. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  4. For the Bacon Marmalade
  5. In a large, heavy bottomed pot, fry the bacon over medium heat until the bacon begins to crisp. Remove the bacon from the pot and let drain on a paper towel lined plate.
  6. Add the chopped onion and garlic to the rendered bacon fat and cook until the onion becomes translucent. Remove the onion and garlic mixture from the pot and discard the fat. Add the bacon and onion garlic mixture back to the pot with the next five ingredients. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce heat to low, while maintaining a simmer.
  7. Simmer for 2 hours, checking the pot every 30 minutes. If the ingredients become too dry, add 1/2 cup water when needed.
  8. After 2 hours, most of the liquid should be reduced. If it is too watery, simmer for up to an additional 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest for 30 minutes to cool. Add hot sauce and pepper. Stir to incorporate.
  9. Transfer the contents to a food processor. Pulse the contents 5 or 6 times to incorporate all the ingredients together. Do not over blend, or you will lose the texture.
  10. To Serve
  11. Place Piquant Pimento Cheese in the bottom of a small glass cup or bowl. Top with Bacon Marmalade. Serve with crackers.

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