So what are the rules here really? Some want it from the box, some need it baked, some need to have actual macaroni and some want lobster and truffles. I’m somewhere in the middle. I want rich, full flavor with appropriate texture and mouth feel. That’s not to say I’m above the box…I appreciate it for what it is. A $1.00 meal that can cure a craving for the taste of yore and fill a belly.
Recently I cooked a “favorites” party and one of the requests was Mac ‘n Cheese. As per the theme, I made an upscale version that contains all the necessary ingredients to induce moans and pull eyeballs up into the sockets. Just so you know; I don’t ever bake Mac ‘n Cheese. To me it is made in one pot, over the stove. Baking it only accomplishes a browned crust effect, which is great and all. But garnishing with souped up bread crumbs scratches the same itch with alot less effort.
Some recipes are below. The fatty McSinful version I did for the party, and a classic “old school” version that Good Eats did a wonderful job with. The party version is a strain on the pocketbook as well as the heart, so keep it for special occasions and feel free to switch up some things if you don’t have an ingredient. Make whatever version you like but remember, texture will be your number one priority so don’t over heat it when stirring in the cheese.
My Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese
½ tsp fresh, course ground black pepper
1T minced parsley
4T panko or sourdough breadcrumbs
1½c heavy whipping cream or evaporated milk
2 eggs, beaten
10oz shredded gruyere
1tsp sherry vinegar
½ tsp dijon mustard
1-2 lobster tails, shucked and cut in chunks
black truffles or truffle oil
Heat a pan over medium high until hot. Add the pepper to toast until browned and fragrant. Add the butter, parsley and panko with a small pinch of salt. Stir and toast over medium heat until crispy, then remove to a bowl to cool.
Cook pasta to al dente with salted water, and reserve some pasta water when you drain. Return pasta to the pot and stir in the butter. Whisk together the cream and next 4 ingredients. Stir into the noodles with the lobster and cook over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes, (If more liquid is needed, use the hot pasta water). Adjust seasoning and stir in the mascarpone. Plate, and shave truffles over the top (or drizzle with the oil) and sprinkle with the toasted breadcrumbs.
We ate the leftovers as breakfast with a fried egg a couple days later and it was a ridiculous breakfast.
Good Eats Classic Mac ‘n Cheese
½ lb elbow macaroni pasta
2 organic free range eggs
12 oz. evaporated milk
½ tsp southern hot sauce
1 tsp kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3/4 tsp dry mustard
10 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Return the pasta to the hot pot over low heat and melt in the butter: stir to coat.
Whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir into the pasta with the cheese. Over low heat continue to stir for 3 minutes or until creamy.