Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Arthropod Abomination - Truffled Lobster Shells & Cheese

Some consider this an affront to nature, going so far as to call it an "abomination".

Personally, I am still not sure how I feel about it. I may just chalk this up to a "guilty pleasure" and hide in the coat closet the next time I make it. (cause then I won't have to share) ;)

I am talking about lobster, or rather, what usually gets passed off as lobster in a lot of restaurants. That would be the Squat Lobster, also known as Langostino but NOT to be confused with Langostine, Norway Lobster or Scampi. (for more information on this little riddle, see Confounding Crustacean Conspiracy Causes Conundrum)

The reason for my guilt is not because I was passing off Squat lobster as "Lobster", it's more of what dish I put it in. I have Italian sensibilities when it comes to Seafood and Cheese. Thus the two are not usually ingredients I tend to combine, but I was watching Royal Pains (FUNNY show) several weeks ago, and there was this food cart serving Lobster Macaroni & Cheese. At first I thought it sounded gross but the more and more I contemplated it, the more I felt that I should at least TRY it. After all it really couldn't be all THAT bad, right?

This is when I decided on the Langostino, since I would not want to go out and spend the money on a real Maine Lobster that has been shipped clear across the United States only to find out that my initial misgivings were correct. So the pseudo-lobster it was, just to test the waters, as it were. I was pleasantly surprised by the finished product. I may need to rethink this whole cheese & seafood thing.

I think the mild cheese helped, for it really is more of a Macaroni & Cream sauce. Danish Fontina is a very mild cheese; pleasantly nutty, but most importantly, smooth melting. I decided to drag out one of my more precious ingredients and anoint the whole thing with a drizzle of Italian Black Truffle oil -- Decadence in a bottle, I tell ya. Normally I would use a Penne or Cavitappi but I figured since it was a seafood dish, that shells might be more in keeping with the spirit.

Truffled Lobster Shells and Cheese

4 oz Unsalted Butter
1 Shallot, minced fine
1 Cup Heavy Cream
6 oz Mascarpone
4 oz Crème Fraîche
1 tsp Tobasco
3 TB Seafood Stock
3 TB Cognac
12 oz Danish Fontina
16 oz Medium Shells
12 oz Langostino (Previously Cooked)
Black Truffle oil
1 oz Grana Padano, shredded; divided

Shred all your cheese, so you will be ready.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan.

When the foaming subsides, add the shallot and saute until soft.

Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer. (you will want to switch to a whisk at this point)

Add Mascarpone and stir until melted and smooth.

Whisk in the Crème Fraîche and bring back to a simmer again.

Add the Tobasco, the Cognac and the Seafood Stock.

Drop your pasta into salted boiling water and cook for 1/2 the time listed on the package. (in the shells case, only 4-5 minutes.)

Then begin adding the shredded Fontina, a little at a time, whisking until completely melted before adding the next handful.

When melted and smooth, add 1/4 tsp Black Pepper (Normally I prefer White Pepper instead, but I was out)

Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

Add the Langostino...

Then the cheese sauce, and toss it all together to coat the shells well.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees while assembling the dish.
Divide the pasta between 6 - 12 oz au gratin dishes (or simply pour the whole mass into a 9x13 baking dish)

Drizzle each one with a little Black Truffle oil. (Black Truffle needs some heat to reach full flavor)

Use 1/2 of the Grana Padano and divide it amongst the ramekins.

Sprinkle an even coat of Panko over this.

Then divide the remaining Grana Padano between the dishes.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.
Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 minutes before serving.

mmmm Creamy Truffled "Lobster" goodness.

I wonder if I should tell them that it wasn't shrimp? Nah!



Heather said...

Bah--one of the greatest things I've ever had at a restaurant was Lobster Mac & Cheese. It's full of delicate, amazing flavors. Yours looks GREAT! :)

Janis said...

This really looks GOOD.

Patti T. said...

How very decadent it sounds! You make the most delicious things.