The ultimate mac 'n cheese challenge #2- Lobster thermidor macaroni cheese aka Lobster mac

Thursday, January 21, 2010
I don't know if this is the ultimate mac 'n cheese, but it sure is the best one I've ever made!
I came accross the idea for Lobster mac 'n cheese here on Foodista somewhere near the begining of December. Adding lobster to macaroni cheese - what could be better? A couple of weeks after that along came Fiona Beckett's mac 'n cheese challenge. It seemed like the perfect opportunity. But googling for lobster 'n mac pics I couldn't understand why they were all in bowls or ramekins -why had noone used the lobster shell? It just seems more obvious.

The other good thing about shopping in farm shops is the people you meet. I bumped into Suzie from the Overbury Estate back in October at Home Farm, and she told me about their new flour. Back in '05/ '06 the estate were milling some of their wheat in an old hand mill in the manor kitchen. What amazing flour that made - a texture and taste that is impossible to get with massed produced flour. Only problem was it had a short shelf life. If they froze it it would last, but not many people wanted to buy it like that.

Fast forward a few years and Prince Charles opened the new Stanway mill just a few miles away at the end of October last year. The wheat from overbury estate only has to travel about 10 miles to the mill. The flour above comes from that first bag - a sample I was given to try out by Mrs. Bossom of the Overbury Estate just before Christmas when I was cooking for one of their shoot lunches. They were interested to see what I thought, though I was warned that that was the first milling, and the stones are going to take a long time to grind down and be workable. They are working on June at the moment for it to be available. In fact what I had was rather rough, raw product. There was some talk too of the miller working on the gluten content - flour is a technical business these days. Indeed there was quite a bit of bran left which I sieved out (right) and saved to and to my next granola. And the remainder of the flour I am going to use for bread.

The texture of the flour was just a joy. Light and fluffy, but slightly coarser (almost granular) than shop brought flour. There's no doubt which is better. You also get the malty wholemeal flavour too.

200g flour, sifted
2 eggs

And that's it - no water. I went for the authentic version. No salt either - there is enough flavour in the sauce and lobster. You mix it like bread dough. The flour, as it turned out, was rather thirsty, so I added more egg - about another 3/4. and kneaded for a minute or two till smooth and wrapped it in clingfilm and left it to one side.

The difference after 20 minutes was amazing - a complete change from a hard dough to something elastic and pliable. So I ran it through the pasta machine a few times (c. 10 times altogether), folding it over and reducing the gauge. Have to say it was some of the best pasta I had made which I put down to the new flour.

At this point, I should say I got the next tip from here. You cut the pasta sheets into 1.5 x 3cm strips (or there abouts). Then brush the end with water and roll the up with onto a chopstick. Yes - it really is that easy!

After blanching in just off boiling salted water for 3 mins I drained it, transferred it to a clean tea towel to soak up excess water and added the macaroni to the the lobster shell (see below).

Well I was hoping to get a live lobster like this critter. But the snow meant I really didn't want to go up to Cirencester and New Wave specially. All the guests I was cooking for that week were going for meat main courses rather than fish, so I couldn't make a good fish order to be delivered (which I could add the lobster to) so in the end I found a cooked one on the fish counter at the Cheltenham Waitrose (you can always rely on them).

Thermidor sauce
I was just going to make normal cheese sauce when I thought of thermidor - how can you improve on a classic?
One of the parties the week before had been cancelled due to the holiday house being inaccessible (down a long very remote country lane full of snow). So I had this piece of St. Kenelm cheese from Gorsehill Abbey Farm to use. When I was researching local produce when I first started up coming up to 4 years ago I was suprised to find this farm was only a couple of miles away at the other end of the village so I walked over to pick up a few samples and then walked back via Barnfield - well you have to really. It really is amazing what you have on your own doortep without realising.

The St. Kenelm, a hard cheese similar to cheddar, was in this case quite a young version - not too overposwering.

Why you rarely see recipes here is I never measure anything unless its of the dessert/ pastry persuasion - so Ihope these amounts work.

25ml butter
1/8 large onion fine chopped
Glass of white wine (175 ml)
200ml chicken stock
100ml double cream
Small handful grated st. Kenelm
1/2 tsp english mustard

Sweat the onion (could use shallot instead) in the butter till soft. Add wine, stock and cream and bring to the boil. Reduce heat slightly so it doesn't burn and reduce by half. Stir in the mustard and cheese and remove from heat. Season to taste.

Then spoon some sauce on top the pasta. Slice the lobster tail on an angle and place it on top of the pasta. The claw meat goes in the head. Brush a little more sauce over the top of the lobster and glaze with a blow torch (you could use a grill of course). This makes 2 halves - it is quite rich so you probably only need one half each.

Maybe this would be a good dish for Valentine's Day?
Related posts:

Cooking lobsters for lobster mac n cheese June 2010
Truffled macaroni bries

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese on FoodistaLobster Macaroni and Cheese


George@CulinaryTravels said...

I'm no fan of mac 'n cheese but this looks like a version I'd be happy to dig in to.

Helen said...

I can't believe you made your own macaroni! That is really taking it to the next level. I thought about doing a mac and then eating chunks of lobster with it too. What a luxurious combination. I like the idea of putting the macaroni in the shell but is that portion big enough?!

James said...

@CulinaryTravels - I've got a spade if you want :o

Helen - Making macaroni's suprisingly easy - you should try it. Maybe both halves of the lobster would be better as a main course. I had this one as a snack before dashing out.

Jan said...

Wow! How lovely is that?!!

Maggie said...

What a fabulous posting.
I love pasta but somehow just don't like macaroni cheese!

long island caterers said...

It's like a deep fry lobster. I can eat all the parts without throwing anything.

NYC Catering said...

My wife would really love this recipe. She would certainly be amazed in the idea of using lobsters to prepare mac 'n cheese.