I still have vivid memories of my early years living in New York. Mom would take us to the waterfront (I think it was Sheepeshead Bay) and we would eat at this seafood place right on dock, watching boats sail by with the slight stench of seafood in the air.
Mom would always order lobster and like the famous scene in Splash, would rip the crustacean apart that it had never had any chance of passing my mom by. Plastic white bibs were necessary and made sure we didn’t get any seafood juice splattered on ourselves, because there was no mercy for the poor animal.
Mom and I are so obsessed with lobster, that one year she even over-nighted a box of lobster claws and knuckles from Kona to California! There’s a lobster farm on the North side of Kona in OTEC where they farm lobster and other seafood, harvest spirulina and work on other natural energy projects. If you ever go to Kona, I highly recommend making a stop there!
Classy comfort food at it’s finest and no sea creatures were ripped apart for this dinner. Buttery lobster meat mixed with some of my favorite cheeses, salty speck and crisp spinach for a fresh layer. I don’t know why we don’t enjoy mac and cheese more often, the fillings and possibilities are endless. We are total carb and cheese heads in this house and adding rich lobster is the perfect addiction (I mean, addition!)
- 8 ounces pasta shells
- 5 Tb unsalted butter + 1 Tb for greasing baking dish
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups of shredded cheese I used smoked gouda, white cheddar and mozzarella
- 1 cup of cooked lobster meat roughly chopped into 1 inch pieces (I used a combo if tails and claws)
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- 1 ounce about 5 strips of speck
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Freshly grated Parmesan
- Olive oil for drizzling
First crisp the speck if you haven't already (or you can use prosciutto but I love the smoky flavor). Add speck slices to a cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes, until crisp. When done, remove and break into pieces. Set aside.
Next, boil salted water in a large pot for the pasta and cook macaroni until al-dente, about 8 minutes. Save about a cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta.
In the same pot, melt 5 Tb butter and 1/2 cup flour and whisk together until flour dissolves and gets thick, then add 1 cup milk and continue to whisk until thickened and add 1/2tsp cayenne, salt and pepper.
Mix in the shredded cheeses and add pasta and stir to combine. If too thick, add about 1/2-3/4 cup of reserved pasta water to the mixture.
Add to the best part! Add in the chopped lobster meat, fresh spinach and crisped speck peices. Stir everything together and taste for seasoning.
Grease a baking dish with 1 Tb butter all over and pour mac and cheese into baking dish. Top with panko breadcrumbs, freshly grated Parmesan cheese and drizzle of olive oil and bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes until top is golden brown.
Once done, allow to rest for at least 10 minutes.