Our daughter Emily and son-in-law Kent are hosting their first holiday party in their new home in Dryden, New York. Excited to receive the invitation, I texted Emily our reply. “What do you want me to make for your party?”
“Haha…maybe a cheeseball?” she shot back. Then true to her Maine roots, she replied, “I really want something with Maine lobster.”
“Ummmm, I dunno about that. Finger food. Easy. How about Lobster Mac and cheese bites (in mini cupcake tins), or even better, smoked Lobster Mac & cheese? YUM!”
Happy to oblige, I was inspired to create.
Smoked Lobster Mac & Cheese Bites certainly sounds luxurious, but is relatively easy, doable in advance, and the cost of ingredients doesn’t break the bank. For 60 bites, the recipe uses eight ounces of cooked lobster, just one cup of Maine lobster meat. And I assure you, frozen Maine lobster, available year round in the supermarket and fishing families home freezers, works great.
The key to the lavish lobster smoked flavor is the cook’s combination of cheeses used to prepare the Mornay or cheese sauce. Mornay is a Béchamel sauce, (one of the four French mother sauces), to which cheese has been added. For those of you that have never prepared this classic white sauce, I encourage you to give it a try.
First start by making a roux of melted butter and flour. Melt the butter in a saucepan and whisk in the flour. It will quickly become quite thick. Slowly whisk in the milk and cream and cook, continuing to whisk, until you have a thickened sauce. Some folks like to warm the milk, and find it easier to whisk into the roux. Use cream cheese or my favorite, local goat cheese from Red Barn Farm, to thicken the sauce, then stir in your choice of 12 ounces total of grated smoked and creamy cheeses.
With this much fat delivering intense, creamy flavor, the Maine lobster really shines. Be sure to serve these addictive Smoked Lobster Mac & Cheese Bites with plenty of napkins. They’re delicious paired with a glass of champagne or sparkling cider, or a home brew.
Alas, we’re not traveling to New York to enjoy the party. But I did tell Emily to be creative with her cheese sauce, and if you have any questions on the preparation, a text to 207.852.0899 works fine. Happy Cooking!
SMOKED LOBSTER MAC & CHEESE BITES
- 1 cup finely chopped Maine lobster (8 ounces weight)
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 4 tablespoons butter / lobster tomalley
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 2 cups combination of milk and cream (more cream, richer bites)
- 4 ounces cream cheese or plain goat cheese
- 12 ounces total of grated cheese (such as smoked cheddar, sharp cheddar, smoked Gouda, Jarlsberg, Gruyere, etc)
- Fresh black pepper to taste
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Finely chop the lobster meat and set aside.
- To prepare the cheese sauce: In a large saucepan, melt the butter (and tomalley). Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the milk and cream, continuing to cook and whisk until the mixture is smooth and thick.
- Add the cream cheese (or goat cheese) and stir until melted.
- Reduce the heat, and stir in the grated cheeses, cooking and stirring until the cheese sauce is smooth. Remove from heat.
- Drain the pasta and add to a large bowl. Stir in the finely chopped lobster and cheese sauce, mixing well. Taste the mixture, and add freshly grated black pepper if needed.
- To prepare the Bites: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease mini muffin tins, 60 total needed.
- Scoop mac and cheese into the mini muffin tins.
- Top with a sprinkle of breadcrumbs. Bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for 10 minutes.
- Serve with plenty of napkins.