There are a few perks to being empty nesters. One of those is to have an elegant dinner that you don’t have to mortgage the house for.
When you have six children, it’s a challenge to maintain a monthly food budget. Rarely will you be able to prepare a meal that is this luxurious and delicious! Recently, it was just the beloved and I for dinner and this was the menu.
2-3 lobster tails (4-5 oz each)
1 lemon sliced
5 bay leaves
1 tablespoon peppercorns
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 pound rigatoni pasta (any macaroni type pasta will work)
8 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups shredded cheese (I used a combination of a Swiss farmers cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan) Use your favorite cheese or whatever you have on hand, but I suggest using 3-4 different kinds if you have them available. It really contributes to the overall flavor.
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
FOR THE LOBSTER:
Fill a large steamer pot 2/3 full of water. Add the lemon, bay leaves, peppercorns, basil, and garlic. Bring to a boil. Place the steamer on top. If you don’t have a steamer pot, use a large pot and place a mesh screen over the top. The goal is to have boiling water with the lobster over it but you don’t want the lobster in the water. Cover with a lid and let the lobster steam for 6 minutes.
The lobster will not be thoroughly cooked at this point but it will continue to cook when it is baked. Remove the meat from the shells, chop into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
FOR THE PASTA:
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. I used the water where I had steamed the lobster in order to get more flavor into the dish. This is totally up to you. Remove the lemons, bay leaves and strain the pasta to remove the other seasonings. Set aside.
FOR THE CHEESE SAUCE:
In a large saute pan, melt 6 tablespoons of butter. Add the flour and allow it to cook for 3-4 minutes until the “rawness” of the flour is gone. Add the nutmeg and milk, whisking continuously until the sauce begins to thicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the cheese and stir until the cheese is melted and thoroughly combined. This is a basic recipe for cheese sauce for mac n cheese or any other recipe that calls for a cheese sauce. At its base, it is a bechamel sauce.
Once the cheese sauce is thickened, add the lobster meat and stir to combine. Stir in the cooked pasta and pour into a 9×13 inch buttered casserole dish.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and add the panko breadcrumbs. Toast until they are lightly browned. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the mac n cheese.
Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30-40 minutes until the topping is browned and the pasta is bubbly.
We have eaten more than once from this meal. It would feed 4 people very well, but having leftovers saved me from cooking another meal! Win, win!