While I still can, I’m making delicious things in the kitchen. This Sunday I’d planned to make mac and cheese. It’s pretty typical I guess, but the cheeses I used were not your typical cheddar blend. I like cheddar fine, but melted cheddar is oily and disgusting. Especially that of the orange variety.
Here is my version, cobbled together from a few different recipes and made so often I can do it from memory.
8 oz creme fraiche
4 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
1/4 cup-ish of flour
1/4 lb grated comte cheese
1/4 lb grated gruyere cheese
1/4 lb grated fontina (I used Bra Tenero this time, which is similar)
1 qt Whole milk
1 cup chopped scallions, mostly the white parts
1 lb pasta – penne is the norm but I like to use gemelli
Claws & tail from one large lobster
Cayenne pepper, paprika
Salt & pepper to taste
Panko bread crumbs
Preheat your oven to 350 and butter a 9×9 baking dish.
To start, make the roux. Melt 2 tbsp butter over medium-low heat and slowly add the flour, incorporating the butter. Cook for about 10 minutes; the flour may turn a golden color which is fine. Slowly add milk and whisk into the roux. Raise the heat to medium. Keep adding milk until it’s the right consistency – I’m sorry I can’t tell you what it is, but just remember that you’ll be adding a bunch of cheese to it so it shouldn’t be too thick. Keep adding milk until you have what looks like enough to cover all the pasta.
In the meantime, cook your pasta al dente and run it under cold water to stop the cooking. You should also boil your lobster – make sure you undercook it a little bit as it will finish in the oven. Save the shells – freeze them to make stock for another day.
Add salt, fresh black pepper, cayenne, paprika. Don’t over salt – the cheese will add some later.
Add the creme fraiche and whisk in, then add all the cheese and whisk/mix until the cheese is melted. Turn off the heat, add pasta and scallions. Make sure to mix well. Shell and chop your lobster into half inch chunks and mix into the pasta. Put this all into your baking dish.
Melt the remaining butter and add the panko to it, toasting it lightly in the pan. Spread this over the top of the casserole, making sure that everything is covered. Bake for 30 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly.
Let this cool about 5-10 minutes after you take it out – the sauce will also thicken at this point. Enjoy with a sweet white wine that has a little acidity, like a gewurztraminer. Make all your friends mad by posting pics on Instagram.
We are eating this again tonight with Caesar salad and roast chicken. Oh and Ryan bought a pie. Can’t stop, won’t stop.
Add smoked ham, prosciutto, or pancetta. Lessen your salting to allow for cured meats.
Add blanched cauliflower.
Add sliced tomatoes on top before layering the panko.