Lobster Mac & Cheese

This dish has been on my radar for some time and I finally got the chance to make it over the weekend. It includes three of my favourite ingredients at the moment in Lobster, Saffron and Guanciale. The lobster was bought from St Georges Market where I managed to get the last two of the day. The Guanciale was from the Meat Merchant in Moira and to my knowledge is one of only a few places that sell it. Similar to pancetta but with a herby twist it provided the dish with an excellent depth of flavour. This dish is a great centrepiece for a dinner party or when you need to impress!

The ingredients would lead you to believe that the dish is extremely rich but to my surprise, it was relatively light for a pasta dish containing cheese, guanciale, saffron and garlic. The lobster is great in providing a sweetness as well as a subtle taste of the sea. The addition of saffron gives an excellent earthy note and the texture of the soft pasta is counteracted with a wonderful crispy breadcrumb and parmesan topping. The ultimate comfort food.

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SWANKINGREDIENTS

Serves 4/5

  • Lobster 1x Large or 2x Small
  • Macaroni 500g
  • Guanciale (or pancetta) 200g
  • Onions 2
  • Saffron Pinch
  • Garlic 4 Cloves
  • Butter 25g
  • Milk 100mls
  • Flour 3 Tablespoons
  • Thyme 3 Sprigs
  • Sage 4 Leaves (to garnish)
  • Breadcrumbs For topping
  • Parmesan For topping
  • Sea Salt 4 Tablespoons (for the pasta water)
  • Sea Salt 2 Teaspoons
  • Cracked Black Pepper

 

Method

First up is to boil the Lobsters for 6 mins each. If you are using one large lobster rather than two small cook for 8 minutes. Some chefs recommend killing the lobster by knife before boiling but I went the old school method of placing it straight into a pan of boiling water. After 6 minutes remove from the water and set aside while you get on with the rest of the dish.

Chop the guanciale (use pancetta if you cannot get guanciale) and add to a dry frying pan to render the fat. This is an important step as the dish will end up quite greasy if overlooked. Once crispy remove from the pan and set on some kitchen role to absorb the excess fat.

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Next, chop the onion and add to a pan with some oil and cook for 10 mins. After the onions have slightly caramelised add the chopped garlic along with the cooked guanciale. Cook for a further 3 mins.

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The next step is to make a roux which is basically a mixture of flour and butter that will thicken the sauce. Move the onions and guanciale mixture to one-half of the pan then melt the butter in the other half. Add the flour and mix with the butter and cook for 30 seconds.

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Add the milk and saffron and stir until you get a thickish base to the sauce. Finally add the gruyere and cheddar stirring well until all the cheese has melted. This will complete the cheese sauce.

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Boil the macaroni as per packet instructions (in heavily salted water) drain and add to the sauce along with the chopped lobster. Check for seasoning at this point to which I added a bit of salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

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Preheat an oven to 180c and pour the contents of the pan into a casserole dish. Finish by sprinkling some breadcrumbs and parmesan to give a crispy coating.

Bake for 20 minutes at 180c and serve straight from the oven. Garnish with some freshly chopped sage and serve on preheated plates or bowls.

Hope you enjoy

Paul.