Lobster Mac and Cheese on a Budget

IMG_0832.jpgMacaroni and cheese is one of those dishes that can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. You can opt for the boxed stuff, make it plain and homemade, order it from a fancy restaurant, or make it homemade with a touch of sophistication. I prefer the last option. Some days, plain macaroni like how my mom used to make it is all I want, but other times it needs something extra–something to elevate it without hurting my wallet. So tonight I decided to try making lobster mac and cheese using imitation lobster, which, I have concluded, is quite tasty and affordable.

My main advice on mac and cheese: DON’T over salt it and be careful with the flour. It’s easy to keep on adding and adding salt because you’re used to adding salt, and then by the time you work in all the cheese the sauce is too salty. As for the flour, it takes just a little spoonful. Any more will likely make your sauce too thick, and not from the cheese (which might not be a bad thing), just from flavorless gummy flour.

Ingredients-wise, this dish is quite flexible. Almost any cheese combination will work, but some are better than others and some will be more affordable that others. My favorites are sharp white cheddar, colby, and Parmesan, but there are many other (usually more expensive) options that will work as well. As for the garnish, you don’t necessarily need one. Tonight I decided to use minced parsley and seasoned breadcrumbs, which gave the dish a nice crunch that somehow paired well with the slightly sweet flavor of the lobster. The pasta is another place open to flexibility. Anything close to elbow macaroni will work. I used large shells.

Other possible ingredients that would work well with this dish: basil, onion, sun-dried or fresh tomato, and red bell pepper. Really, it would be hard to go wrong.

Here’s a basic recipe:

  • Pat of butter
  • Flour
  • Pepper
  • Some blend of cheese
  • Half and half or milk (or whipping cream, but I would add some milk to avoid making the sauce too rich)
  • Salt
  • Imitation lobster, cut into medium-sized chunks
  • Pasta (elbows, shells, cavatappi, penne, or routini are all good choices)
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Parsley
  • Whatever else you want 🙂

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