The following recipe and photography was provided by recipe developer and food photographer, Ashley Durand of Plate & Pen.
Macaroni and cheese might just be the most comforting meal, especially at the holidays when we’re itching to enjoy something decadent.
I love macaroni in its most basic form – with a ton of melted cheese! However, since it’s the holidays, I decided to kick things up a notch and pack it with lobster.
I also wanted to experiment with a roasted hazelnut oil and nut crumb. This was a GREAT idea! If you’re making macaroni for your family, go big. We never do traditional holiday meals, so was definitely the star of the show in my home!
For the Macaroni
- 1 lb. cooked lobster claw meat
- 1/2 lb. lump crab meat
- Sea salt (for seasoning pasta water)
- 16 oz. cavatappi noodles
For the Cheese Sauce
- 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup seafood stock
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 2 cups grated gruyere cheese
- 2 cups grated sharp New York white cheddar cheese
- 2 cups grated Colby Jack cheese
- 1 Tbsp. hazelnut oil (or regular olive oil)
- 1 Tbsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper and sea salt
For the Panko Hazelnut Crumb Topping
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs, crushed finer than boxed size
- 3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
- 3 Tbsp. roasted hazelnuts, roasted with skins removed and chopped to bread crumb size in a food processor
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
- Toast 1/2 cup of hazelnuts at 400°F for 15 minutes. Remove the thin outer shell by rubbing them together. Chop thin in a processor and add a cup of crushed panko. Set aside.
- Set oven to broil.
- Remove the meat from claws of the lobster (or buy declawed meat).
- Salt pasta water and boil the cavatappi until al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain in colander and set aside.
- Prep a 9×13 baking dish with vegetable spray. Set aside.
- Make the cheese sauce. In a large sauce pan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the seafood stock, milk and cream. Whisk until smooth. Continue cooking for 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Add the nutmeg and stir until fully combined. Pour slowly and evenly into the prepared baking dish.
- Add the gruyere, white cheddar and Colby Jack cheeses and stir until melted and smooth. Fold in the cooked pasta. Add the lobster and crab meat along with the hazelnut oil. Season with red pepper flakes, cayenne and salt and pepper, to taste.
- For the panko hazelnut crumb topping, melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the panko and hazelnut mixture and toss until golden. Remove from heat and add parsley, cayenne and salt.
- Top the casserole with shredded cheddar cheese followed by the panko crumb mixture.
- Broil the casserole for 7 minutes or until the top is golden brown.