Macaroni and cheese was probably created somewhere in Northern Europe, but its exact origins are unknown.
According to the Smithsonian food blog "Food and Think," none other than Thomas Jefferson first introduced this popular American comfort food in the United States. It seems that while Jefferson was in Paris, he fell in love with various pasta dishes and since they were unfamiliar to this country at the time, he brought back a pasta machine and his favorite recipes. Later, as president, Jefferson served macaroni and cheese at a state dinner.
If you cannot help but think about the Kraft version that many of us grew up eating, that has an interesting history as well. It was introduced to the market in 1937 during the Great Depression and became an instant hit, selling 8 million boxes the first year. It was a good buy because you could feed four people for 19 cents. It gained even more popularity during World War II because of dairy rationing. The mac and cheese from the box still remains a staple for many, but of course chefs started creating upgrades and improvements.
Sheree DeLorenzo at Seaport Grille noticed years ago that a macaroni and cheese dish with lobster started to appear on many menus, especially around Boston. This is her take of that version of that comfort food turned into a gourmet meal. Her secrets are fresh, grated sharp cheddar cheese, a real roux, a Ritz cracker bread crumb topping and fresh ,steamed lobster meat.
She suggests serving a very light Sauvignon Blanc with this version, but any lighter wine will do.
It is hard to say what he would have thought, but it is not too difficult to imagine that even Thomas Jefferson would have approved of this Lobster Macaroni and Cheese.
Lobster Mac and Cheese
1 pound pasta, elbows recommended
1 pound cheddar cheese, grated
1 pound lobster meat (meat from about 3 boiled lobsters), bite-sized pieces
For the cheese sauce:
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
2 tablespoons flour, all purpose
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
For the bread crumbs:
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup Ritz crackers, crushed
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup parsley, minced
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons butter
Heat water for pasta.
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F.
1. Boil pasta until al dente, firm but chewable.
2. Meanwhile, make roux in saucepan by melting butter with flour until it forms a paste and turns a dark, yellow color. Add cream and then milk to form a sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.
3. Take the roux off the heat so it doesn't burn and add grated cheese, mixing until it is well blended.
4. Combine the pasta in a large bowl with the sauce and cheese, mix well, and then add the lobster meat and mix in.
4. Plate into casserole dish or cast iron frying pan, cover with bread crumbs and bake in the oven at 325 degrees F. for one hour until bubbly.
Serve with vegetable if desired.
For the bread crumbs:
1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until moistened. Enjoy!
Recipe courtesy of Sheree Delorenzo, the Seaport Grille, 2012.