Monday, January 2, 2012

Lobster Mac and Cheese with Celery Root Salad

Photo by shantilly picnic


Lots of ideas were thrown around before we ultimately decided to stay in Brooklyn and cook a good meal among friends for NYE 2012. Surprise surprise! It was perfect. We all met up Saturday morning to decide on the menu (and eat some fresh bagels and lox thanks to Keith and Elspeth). We wanted something simple, so that the entire night wouldn't be devoured by cooking, but his group of foodies were not about to settle on just any meal to ring in the new year... Lobster mac and cheese was the answer - minimal time in the kitchen and it still screams special occasion. To counterweight this rich, decadent main course, a crisp celery root salad with apple vinaigrette. This is definitely a meal worth replicating. We started the evening with an oyster shooter (sorry Emma!), a crusty rosemary loaf from Balthazar and some seriously stinky cheeses. 


Photo by shantilly picnic
Photo by shantilly picnic

Lobster Mac and Cheese

Ingredients
Serves 8-10
1 lb orecchiette pasta
4 cups milk
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 oz Gruyere cheese, grated
8 oz extra-sharp Cheddar, grated 
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 lb cooked lobster meat (we bought one 2 1/2 lb lobster)
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs 
Kosher salt
Sunflower oil or vegetable
Grey sea salt and crushed red pepper for garnish


Preparation 


When boiling lobster it is important to select a pot big enough to hold enough water to cover the lobsters completely. Bring the water to a rolling boil and add 1 tablespoon salt per quart of water. Put the lobsters in claws first and begin timing from the moment the water comes back to a boil. Let the lobsters rest for 5 minutes or so after cooking to allow the meat to absorb some of the moisture in the shell. Click here for instructions on how to crack a lobster.
For 1 pound: 5 minutes
1 1/8 pounds: 6 minutes
1 1/4 pounds: 8 minutes
1 1/2 to 2 pounds: 8 to 10 minutes
more than 2 pounds : 12 minutes 

Photo by shantilly picnic
Photo by shantilly picnic



Photo by shantilly picnic


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the pasta and cook to al dente, slightly less than the directions on the package. Drain well and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. In a large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk in small amounts until thickened and smooth. Remove from heat and add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Once incorporated, add the cooked macaroni and lobster. Stir well and place the mixture in buttered casserole dish.

Photo by shantilly picnic
Photo by shantilly picnic


Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top. If it doesn't brown, put it in the broiler for the last 1-2 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Photo by shantilly picnic
Photo by shantilly picnic
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Celery Salad with Cider Vinegar and Sunflower Oil 
Adapted from the Prime Meats recipe in The New Brooklyn Cookbook

Photo by shantilly picnic

Ingredients
Serves 8

2 1/2 cups celery root (celeriac), peeled, thinly sliced and julienned
3 cups celery, thinly sliced
2 1⁄2 cups celery leaves
2 cups fresh parsley leaves, picked and left whole or chopped coarsely 
2/3 cup thinly sliced radishes
1 apple, cored, thinly sliced and julienned
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup sunflower oil
Parmesan (optional)
Grey sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Preparation
In a large bowl, combine the celery root, celery, celery leaves, parsley leaves, and radish slices. Season to taste with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, whisk the apple cider vinegar and sunflower oil. Feel free to adjust measurements to taste; we felt like the original recipe called for too much oil and not enough vinegar. Drizzle the salad with a generous amount of the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Garnish with grey sea salt and shaved Parmesan cheese.
  

Photo by shantilly picnic

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