San Diego Cooks: Lobster Macaroni and Cheese
Friday, February 8, 2013
Live in San Diego long enough and you quickly become accustomed to the temperate climate. Warm days and semi-cool nights. What could be better?
Of course, there’s always an exception to the rule. Remember last summer and how hot it was—day after day after day? Though, memories of intense heat soon gave way to the coldest winter on record—at least in the 22 years since I’ve lived here. And, believe me, as a former New Yorker, who has survived countless blizzards, when the thermometer in San Diego dips into the 30s, boy, is it cold!
Luckily, the temperature is finally rebounding back into normal territory. (Whew!) But still, thinking of all those chilly, frosty nights has me contemplating one thing:
Macaroni and Cheese!
That deliciously warm, cheesy, gooey concoction that every kid loves! Comfort food at its best! Hearkens me back to the snowstorms of my youth, when school would be canceled, and kids in my neighborhood would bundle up, snow boots and all, and venture out into the drifts of snow.
We’d go sledding down the hill around the corner, make snowmen, and throw ourselves onto the pristine snow to make snow angels. Afterward, when we were wet and chilled to the bone, my brothers and I would throw ourselves on the mercy of my mother, begging for sustenance. She’d force us to first hang all our wet outerwear to dry, and then, taking pity on us, would serve us heaping bowls of macaroni and cheese. Those bowls would be licked clean in no time!
If you ask me, there’s got to be at least a zillion variations of this time-tested dish, which isn’t just for kids anymore. The ones I prefer use ample amounts of cheddar cheese for a strong and robust flavor. My mother would use a recipe that also called for a large can of stewed tomatoes, which actually gave it a nice tangy flavor.
But recently, while dining at C-Level, a Cohn restaurant, I discovered a recipe for Macaroni and Cheese that is mouthwateringly delicious. And, their version adds lobster to the mix. Trust me, it’s scrumptious.
Here’s the recipe, which Chefs Deborah Scott and Mike Suttles were gracious enough to share (yay!):
Lobster Mac and Cheese
Ziti, 1 box, cooked al dente (about 6 minutes)
For the lobster:
1 each live whole lobster
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fleur de sel (which can be found in most gourmet stores)
Bring water, salt and vinegar to a ferocious boil. Place lobster in a medium stockpot. Pour water over lobster. In three minutes, remove the tail and set aside. In 3 more minutes, remove the claw. Crack shells and remove meat. Rough chop, season with salt and pepper and set aside for service.
For the sauce, add the following ingredients to a bechamel sauce:
2 ounces fontina
2 ounces Gruyere
2 ounces mozzarella
2 ounces cheddar
2 ounces American
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and stir with a large spoon to create a blond roux. Slowly add in the warmed milk, whisking to incorporate. Add all remaining ingredients and season with fleur de sel and freshly cracked pepper. Add the lobster meat and the pasta. Finish with a small amount of seasoned bread crumbs and gratinee. Garnish with freshly snipped chives.