Jen’s Lobster Mac and Cheese for Valentine’s Day! And beer pairings!

Valentine’s Day is approaching! Need a special dinner? I got you! Lobster Mac and Cheese. 2 ways! The real deal for those who really like to play around in the kitchen and get a kick out of the process, and a cheater version for those that would like to get to that “ta-da” finish. And then I hand it over to B for beer pairings in B’s Beer Buzz! 🙂 Happy Valentine’s Day!

If you love this, please come and find me again! 😀


Jen’s Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

Get that lobster ready. Pick one.

Cooked Lobster Tails – Real Deal
¾ pound lobster tails, about three 4 ounce tails, shells removed (about 9 oz after the shells are removed)
ButterAmount determined below
Okay, the recipe calls for a half pound of cooked lobster tails. A fancy grocery store might have them, but what if yours doesn’t or you’d prefer to do your own? You can certainly boil, steam, or grill the tails (Leave the shells on if you do!), but I love the perfect texture and buttery deliciousness of butter poaching, invented by Food God, Thomas Keller. It’s called a Beurre Monté, if you want your sweetie to open a better bottle of wine. I’ve got a geeky little trick to determine the amount of butter needed. Put the lobster tails in a saucepan that has a reasonably tight fit. Pour water over to just cover, then pour that water into a measuring cup to see how much liquid is displaced. Throw the water out, and place that much butter on the cutting board. Put the tails on paper towel. Heat the saucepan over medium and add 1 T water. Add butter, a chunk at a time, whisking to emulsify, and never exceeding 190°F, or the butter will separate. Once it’s all in, keep the butter between 160-190°F and poach the tails for 5-7 minutes, until the internal temp reaches 140-145°F. Reserve the tails, and use that butter in your sauce below. Lobster roux. Oh, you will be rewarded for going the extra mile, my friends!

Cooked Lobster Tails – Cheater versionIMG_5758
Costco sells Langostino lobster tails, fully cooked and ready to use, in the frozen section. No, it’s not a true lobster, but the tails taste close enough, they’re cheap, and require zero effort. Nice.

Okay, the lobster’s ready. Back to the mac and cheese. Preheat the oven to 400°F or 205°C, depending on which side of the pond you’re on. Put a pot of water on to boil, and salt it once it’s boiling.

½ pound elbow macaroni
Boil until just under al dente. That’s just about a minute short of whatever the package says. Drain. Rinse in cold water and drain again. Set aside.

2 ½ cups whole milk
Microwave the milk to warm a little, about 1 minute, then set aside.
7 Tablespoons unsalted butter – (If you did the real deal, you MUST use the butter from the Beurre Monté!!! That creates a lobster roux, and the flavor is superb!)
7 Tablespoons all-purpose flour – love King Arthur
2 teaspoons kosher salt – Diamond Crystal
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, and whisk constantly while it bubbles and then just begins to start to brown a little, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk slowly, whisking constantly so you don’t have lumps. Whisk until it’s absolutely luscious and coats the back of a spoon.

1 cup (4 oz) Havarti cheese, shredded
½ cup (2 oz) cheddar cheese, shredded (I prefer extra sharp)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
Add the cheese, just a handful at a time, stirring until smooth before adding the next handful.

½ pound cooked lobster meat, in bite sized chunks
Add the lobster, stirring til warmed through, about 2 minutes more (unnecessary if it’s still warm). Stir in the macaroni. Pour into 4 buttered au gratin dishes or 1 buttered 9”x13” baking dish.

Bake for 10 minutes.

¼ cup panko bread crumbs
1 T butter
Stir together, give a quick toast.
1 T parmesan cheese
Stir in and sprinkle on top.IMG_5971

Garlic Green Beans
1 pound haricot vert or whole green beans
2 Tablespoons olive oil
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 clove garlic, pressed or minced
Toss together and roast on a big baking sheet at 425° for 10 minutes.

Omit the garlic if you must, but my honey would think it was a nice idea if I rubbed myself with garlic instead of perfume. Okay, I’m exaggerating. I’ll make a fragrance recommendation to make up for that. The whole line of Dior Escale is fantastic. Portofino for when you’re making Italian food. Parati for when you’re barbecuing. Escale Aux Marquises when you’re making French food. And Pondichery when you’re making Indian food. You don’t match your perfume to what you’re cooking?! Weird. If you’re a guy, Givenchy’s Play Intense might be better.

IMG_5973Now…. What to drink with that classy mac? A perfectly chilled pinot grigio, champagne, or prosecco? Obviously. But what if you’re a beer lover? I love a double IPA or a creamy milk stout as much as the next girl, but those would be terribly wrong here. Tragic. They’d overpower dinner. Bernard and I decided to take one for the team and do a little beer tasting flight to check out our options. Without further ado, I’ll hand you over to that brilliant beast of a man….


B’s Beer Buzz

IMG_0613Okay, so we’re having Lobster Mac & Cheese, and Jennifer wants beer pairings. We want a little sweetness, and some flavor, but nothing that is going to overpower the lobster. I’m thinking a Hefeweizen or a Witbier. We’ll try out a mix of 8. I’m going to throw in a hoppier ale for contrast.

General Notes: The stronger flavored beers tended to float to the top. Anything too mild got swamped by the cheese and the bites of lobster. The citrus imparted by the witbier process and the hoppy bitterness of the APA both worked.

Witbiers and Hefeweizens are supposed to be unfiltered, but some of our examples were exceeding clear. This did not seem to hurt them any flavor-wise, though.

Both styles tend to be light colored and citrusy. The difference between Hefeweizens and Belgian Witbiers is that the former get their flavor primarily from the fermentation process, while the latter often have orange peel, coriander, and other spices added in mild quantities.

Beers are listed in the order of preference for this dish, but you can find a photo of them all above.

#1 Celis White
Type: Witbier
By: Celis Brewery, Austin, TX
ABV: 4.9%
IBU: 25
Great flavor, the citrus was there but balanced. It went well with the dish but didn’t overpower it. The mild hoppiness worked well, too. It’s based off of a well-known Belgian original.

#2 White Rascal
Type: Witbier
By: Avery Brewing Co, Boulder, CO
ABV: 5.6%
IBU: 10
Great flavor, again the citrus was there but not so much as to overwhelm the dish. Crisp.

#3 Namaste White
Type: Witbier
By: Dogfish Head Craft Brewing, Milton, DE
ABV: 4.8%
IBU: 20
Very close in flavor to the White Rascal, but more bitter. A little less crisp, which gave the edge to the Avery, but still very good with the mac.

#4 Alamo White
Type: Witbier
By: Alamo Beer Company, San Antonio, TX
ABV: 4.5%
IBU: ?
A little milder on the spices than the top contenders. Very clearly unfiltered, though, which gave it a more ale-like taste. Slightly stronger carbonation.

#5 Alaskan White
Type: Witbier
By: Alaskan Brewing Co., Juneau, AK
ABV: 5.3%
IBU: 15
Strong citrus, maybe a little too much to be perfect with the dish. Maltier, not very sweet. Still very nice, though.

#6 Voodoo Ranger 8 Hop Pale Ale
Type: American Pale Ale
By: New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO
ABV: 5.5%
IBU: 35
I tossed in something hoppier to see how it would work. The verdict? Not bad, but I think a little too bitter to be at the top of the list, it overwhelms the mac. Good citrus, though.

#7 Pyramid Hefeweizen
Type: Hefeweizen
By: Pyramid Brewing, Seattle, WA (subsidiary of Magic Hat)
ABV: 5.2%
IBU: 18
Pretty mild, flavor-wise. Citrus notes are present, but it’s overwhelmed by the food. Good scent, though.

#8 Fat Tire Belgian White
Type: Witbier
By: New Belgium Brewing Co., Fort Collins, CO
ABV: 5.2%
IBU: 12
Very mild, even more so than the Pyramid. Just not strong enough to have with a cheese-based dish, you might as well be drinking a lager.

All of the beers were very drinkable, but given the dish they were paired with I definitely favor a stronger tasting beer that can come through.


#LobsterMac

#Macandcheese

#BeerPairings

#WitBier

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