This dish started with an early morning trip to the fish market.
We're finally getting a taste of fall weather here in the DC area, which means Michael and I have officially ended our outdoor activity hiatus. Last weekend we woke up early and took a sunrise walk on Theodore Roosevelt Island. We found a nice spot on the river to enjoy our coffee and tea, then enjoyed perusing through nature for a bit.
Afterwards we ventured into Georgetown for some bagels from Call Your Mother, which were super delicious but way too much food for me to finish myself. We finished our morning at the Wharf fish market to pick up some fresh fish. It's the oldest continuously operating open air fish market in the country, and totally worth your time if you're ever in the DC area. I've had lobster mac and cheese on my mind for quite some time, so we settled on some steamed lobster, and this dish was born. It's creamy, indulgent, flavorful, and everything you want in a good comfort meal.
But lobster is so expensive. Do I have to use it?
It's true. Lobster is expensive--we bought 1 whole lobster for Michael and me, and it was $22 for about 4 ounces of meat. It was Labor Day weekend and we felt like splurging, but it's definitely not something we do all the time. I had lobster on the mind when I dreamed up this recipe, so the main ingredients--thyme, corn, Gruyere, and parmesan-- all pair really well with lobster.
That being said, I tried this mac and cheese on its own and it was still amazing. So if you don't want to include the lobster, go for it. Traditional mac and cheese doesn't have a protein, and this doesn't have to, either (plus it already has bacon, so that counts, right?!). If you want to sub something else in for the lobster, I'd try crab meat or shrimp--I think both would be really delicious with this mac.
This lobster mac and cheese is really easy. Here's what you do:
First prep your lobster. If you bought a whole cooked lobster, you'll have to break it down yourself. I used this tutorial and it was super easy. If you bought cooked lobster meat, you're already good to go.
Next, cook your pasta. I used campanelle from Trader Joe's (also called gigli), but any small pasta will work. If you want to go more traditional and use actual macaroni, go for it. When your pasta has finished cooking, save a cup of pasta water for later.
While the pasta is cooking, add bacon to a large pan and cook over medium-high heat until it's crispy. When it's done, remove it from the pan and sop up the bacon grease with a paper towel.
Then turn the heat down to medium-low and add butter, garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes, and corn to the pan. Let the corn cook for about five minutes or until it has a slight char, stirring occasionally. Make sure you keep your heat low so nothing burns.
Once your corn has a slight char, add cream, salt, and black pepper to the pan and let it simmer and thicken for 2-3 minutes, then add shredded gruyere and parmesan. Cook until the cheese is melted, then add half a cup of pasta water and let the sauce re-thicken.
Meanwhile, re-heat your lobster. I melted some butter in a pan and added the lobster for 1 minute. That's it! It's already cooked, so you're just getting it warm.
Add the cooked pasta to the pan with your sauce. Stir to combine, then add bacon and lobster. If your noodles are dry and you need more sauce, add a touch more pasta water and stir again. Then turn your heat off and serve!