From our kitchen: truffle and lobster macaroni cheese
Author: Berry Bros. & Rudd
On the table: Macaroni cheese is comfort food nirvana, but here – with the addition of the king of shellfish and the mighty black diamond from Périgueux in France – it is taken to a whole new level. It’s a decedent feast which is sure to impress someone special, perhaps on 14th February. This is a cracking dish, the majority of which can be prepared in advance, leaving you free to focus on the important things. (It’s a little tricky if you want to prep your own lobster but faint heart never won fair maiden…)
We are blessed with having some of the best shellfish around our coast (the coldness of the water making the meat slightly sweeter and more succulent), and lobster is undoubtedly the king so try to get a native one if you can. If you don’t fancy cooking one yourself, there are plenty of pre-cooked ones on the market.
Périgueux (also known as Périgord) truffles need no introduction; they are possibly the greatest fungus of all. Some may say this honour belongs to the white Alba truffle from Italy, although as the seasons don’t really clash I think there is room to appreciate both. We are now right in the middle of the Périgueux season meaning that the region’s truffles are at their best. If you can’t find fresh there are plenty of jarred truffles or paste that you can use.
In the glass: The combination of pungent aromas and fine flavours demands a balancing white wine possessed of expansiveness, freshness and complexity. The fatness of the cream, cheese and butter require a wine of equal weight and richness. White Rhônes, northern and southern, will provide a foil of requisite oomph. Fragrant Viognier will cope well with the intensity of the truffle, but also complement the juiciness and fragrance of the lobster. Intense but restrained, all manner of fuller-bodied Italian whites (Verdicchio, Greco di Tufo, Fiano, Cataratto and Grillo) would stand up to this food-flavour onslaught, and provide the freshness needed for perfect balance.
- 25g butter
- 50g chestnut mushrooms – sliced
- 10g fresh truffle (optional)
- 1-2 tsp truffle oil
- 150g macaroni
- 25g plain flour
- 50ml Champagne
- 200ml milk
- 50ml single cream
- 50g Parmesan
- 50g Gruyère
- 2 tbsp fresh chives – chopped
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 lobster – cooked (see below)
Melt 25g butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, stir in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes. Beat in the Champagne and milk a little at a time using a wooden spoon, until very smooth. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 20 minutes; stir well every few minutes to make sure it doesn’t stick.
Fry the mushrooms in a splash of oil until nice and golden. Chop and mix with the chives and truffle oil, then set aside. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the macaroni for seven or eight minutes until just tender. Drain. Once the sauce has cooked out, stir in the cream and bring back to the boil. Remove from the heat, then mix in half the Parmesan, Gruyère, mushroom mix, mustard and season to taste. Fold in the cooked lobster.
Place In a suitable ovenproof dish and sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan. Bake in a hot oven until lovely and golden (about 15 minutes). Whilst the macaroni is in the oven, pan-fry the split lobster tails in a little foaming butter for a couple of minutes. Serve with the roasted lobster tail and some gem lettuce dressed with a simple vinaigrette. Finish with some sliced fresh truffle and a spoon of the lobster sauce.
To prepare the lobster
- 1 live lobster (approx. 600-700g)
- 1 of each carrot/onion/leek and celery – peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sprig of thyme
Anesthetise the lobster by placing in the freezer for an hour or two. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, salt well, then add the vegetables and herbs. Kill the lobster by putting a knife through the back of its head. Twist off the tail and claws. Using a pair of fish tweezers, twist and pull the centre portion off the tail (this should come away with the intestinal track). Place the claws and tail in the pan and simmer for about five minutes. Chop down the shells (retaining them for the sauce), removing and discarding any of the internal organs. Once the lobster is cooked, allow to cool and crack out the shell. Dice the claw meat and split the tail in half, setting it aside. Chop down these shells for the sauce as well.
Lobster butter sauce (optional)
- Shells from one lobster
- 2 shallots
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 1 sprig of tarragon
- 1 pinch coriander seeds
- 1 tsp tomato purée
- 50ml white wine
- 200ml fish stock or water
- 15ml cream
- 30g butter – diced
Heat a splash of olive if in a pan and fry the shells until golden. Add the shallots, garlic, thyme and coriander seeds. Cook for a further minute then stir in the tomato purée. Deglaze with a splash of white wine, then add the fish stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes. Pass through a fine sieve, discarding the shells. Return the stock to the pan and reduce until about 50ml. At this point the sauce can be chilled until required. To finish add a splash of cream and whisk in the diced butter. Season to taste and serve.