Thursday, January 28, 2016

Comfort Food Goes Modern with Lobster Mac & Cheese #BornOntheFarm

When the weather gets colder and the nights get longer, do you find that you turn to comfort foods for your family table? This time of year just screams for hearty soups and stews and baked pasta dishes. And I know I turn to tradition as well. When I'm feeling cold or dreary, I want the foods I grew up on, prepared just like Mom used to make.

Or maybe not exactly like Mom used to make. A couple years ago I tried lobster mac & cheese at a cocktail party. It was a taste explosion! And so I decided to amp up my game and make some for myself at home.  And today I'm sharing my recipe with you!

When I make a traditional mac 'n' cheese, I use a mild or medium cheddar. Something kid-friendly, with a subtle taste. But once you add lobster, you need to kick it up a notch and go for a more mature flavour. I still use cheddar, but I go for a well-aged old cheddar. There's a great sharpness in the taste, and it works wonderfully with the sweetness of the lobster tails. And I prefer to use a white cheddar, just for aesthetic reasons. The result both looks and tastes more grown-up and makes a great dish to serve to your adult friends.

For this recipe I used Ivanhoe Extra Old Cheddar Cheese. Ivanhoe has been a part of the Gay Lea family since 2008, but they've been making award-winning artisan cheeses since 1870. There's so much experience and knowledge in that history. They are actually the oldest Canadian artisan cheese company, and they have a factory outlet store in their town of Ivanhoe, ON, just north of Belleville, that is quite the tourist attraction. They see over 75,000 visitors each year who come to learn about cheese making, sample the wares, and do some shopping. Antiques, gift baskets, old fashioned milk shakes, and or course their own cheese. I think I may have to visit!

The extra old cheese is fairly dry and crumbly, with a distinct, nutty flavour. It's the perfect flavour for this dish. Because of its dryness, though, you may want to add more milk to your recipe than I do. I like a fairly dry mac 'n' cheese, but don't be afraid to experiment!

Lobster Macaroni & Cheese Casserole


¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
1 ½ cups milk
1 300g pkg Ivanhoe Extra Old Cheddar Cheese (about 2 cups), grated
2 cups dry elbow pasta
4 3-4oz lobster tails
Salt & pepper to taste

1/3 cup bread crumbs


Preheat oven to 325.
Prepare the lobster: Drop the lobster tails into a pot of boiling, salted water. They will cook quickly, in about 3 or 4 minutes. The tails are done when the shells turn red and the meat is white. Remove the tails and allow to cool.

Sauce: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the flour. Whisk constantly until the butter is completely incorporated and the mixture is thick and lightly browned, with a toasty smell. (About 2-3 minutes.) Add the milk gradually. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and continue to whisk for about 4-5 minutes, until thickened. Add the cheese. Continue to stir or whisk until the cheese has melted. Remove from heat. Salt & Pepper to taste.

While the sauce is cooking, prepare the pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta and place in a buttered casserole dish.

Remove cooled lobster tails from their shells and chop into bite-sized pieces. Toss with the pasta. Pour the cheese sauce into the casserole dish and mix to combine thoroughly. Top with the bread crumbs and bake for 20-25 minutes.

To remove the tails from their shells, use kitchen shears to cut through the underside of the shell, then break apart with your fingers.

Raw, the shells are green and the meat is almost translucent.

Cooked, the shells are now red, and the meat is white and opaque.

Have you ever tried this mac 'n' cheese variation? Do you make it yourself? I admit that my kid won't eat this, but then again, it's really for me anyway :)  Both lobster and aged cheese are more adult tastes, so I'm not surprised a 10 year old isn't impressed. The grown-ups though love this! And a more adventurous kid than mine could as well.

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Disclosure: I am part of the Gay Lea Ambassador Campaign, and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

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