This morning, my hot gf invited me over for dinner to watch the Packers play. She is a diehard fan, so we typically spend our Sundays watching their games, which I don’t mind since she also cooks me dinner. Aside from the fact that I’m a Jets fan and anything’s better than watching them.
After halftime, she started making dinner. I wasn’t paying attention to what she did initially, but I imagine she took some stuff out of the fridge and cabinets. Presumably the ingredients for what she would be cooking.
Chef’s note: One thing I do before starting any directions is take out all of my ingredients–even the cold ones. You want your items all around the same temperature when you are cooking.
I became more attuned when she began using a really loud blender and I had no choice. She has chopped up what appears to be a large amount of cheese. I’m not sure what she is making, but I can postulate it will give me lots of gas. I’m also not sure if I’m lactose intolerant, but she tolerates me which is good considering I love to eat everything she cooks.
Chef’s note: I am using the food processor to shred up sharp cheddar and gruyere. You really don’t want the pre-shredded varieties for this meal; plus, gruyere does not come pre-shredded, probably for a reason. If you don’t have a food processor, ask your significant other on the couch to get up and help you grate some cheese!
It now sounds like she is using a whisk to whip something up in a metal bowl.
“What are you whisking?” I holler.
“Butter and flour,” she bluntly replies.
Chef’s note: I’m making a roux. You cook butter and flour together and whisk constantly. Warm milk then goes into the roux to create a creamy sauce. On it’s own this is white sauce, but in this case I will be mixing in the cheese for a cheese sauce. Perfect for some mac ‘n’ cheese.
She doesn’t let me stand in the kitchen while she is cooking. Probably because I just get in the way. I don’t mind because I use the time to write anyway. She’s making some more noise now. Ok, that sounds like a pepper mill that she is using. It’s starting to smell nice in the apartment. Kind of like something is baking. I got a feeling–
She is yelling. Green Bay fumbled on their own 17-yard line with 1:51 seconds left. Tie game. 31-31. If they lose, they pretty much lose their chance at going to the playoffs. And I may lose my chance at eating this dinner tonight as she may hurl it against the wall.
Now I hear her fumbling inside the cabinet. She’s putting something on the stovetop. She appears to be heating a pan–hold on, she’s punching something in the oven, it’s making beeping sounds. She’s stepping away from the stove–no wait, she’s pausing as if to think for a moment–
She doesn’t seem all that amused by my play-by-play announcements of her cooking. Especially since I’m talking over the game.
Chef’s note: At this point I have gotten the mac n cheese oven ready and it needs to bake for about a half hour. I guess in theory you can serve it right from the stove top since technically everything is cooked, but baking it makes it all come together. It will be gooier and much more delicious. It’s worth the extra half hour wait.
She did catch the last play, where the Packers blew it. She’s not happy, but dinner is still in tact, so I am. I step into the kitchen to see what’s on display. It looks decadent, and I’m not just referring to her. In a pan I see bubbling golden brown breadcrumbs baked atop gooey cheese goodness encompassing pasta and succulent chunks of lobster. It’s as f’ing delicious as it sounds. I should have taken a picture, but I was too busy salivating at the sight of it. I’m already on my third helping. She doesn’t like when I speak with my mouthful, so here is her commentary on tonight’s dinner:
Chef’s note: “I had the idea this morning. I wanted seafood but not just like a fish; I was still hungover and wanted some kind of comfort food. I’ve seen Ina do this shit like 100 times and I was like ‘I can do that.’ To spice it up a little, I added hot sauce and some parmesan cheese to the topping. Hot sauce isn’t always to make something spicy. You probably can’t even tell it’s there, but it adds flavor.
As far as the other ingredients, they don’t always tell you quantities in a way that makes sense. Like 12 oz of cheese? That’s not how it is in the package. 1.5 lbs of lobster? It doesn’t say that anywhere when you buy it. I bought a lobster tail and it seems like it was sufficient.”
I forgot to take pictures of this week’s recipe, so instead enjoy these photogenic Packers fans!
Lobster Packeroni and Cheese
A Packers fan's take on a classic mac & cheese recipe, with inspiration from the talented Ina Garten
- vegetable oil
- 3/4 lb elbow macaroni (almost one box)
- a little less than 1 quart of milk
- 1 stick of butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I actually measure this out but start with a little less than 1/2 cup, you probably won’t need the full amount.)
- *12 oz block of Gruyere cheese, grated
- *8 oz block of extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
- salt and pepper to taste
- pinch of nutmeg (freshly grated if you have it)
- 1 lobster tail, cooked (I just boiled it for about 5-6 minutes, nothing fancy)
- Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (does anyone use anything but?!)
- hot sauce to taste, about 10 dashes
- parmesan cheese, shredded for topping
- *Chef’s note: when i read recipes and then go into the grocery store, often what is called for is not the same measurement as what is listed i.e oz, cups, grams, etc. I never feel like converting in the store so I go with my gut. In this case Ina calls for 12 oz of gruyere and 8oz of cheddar but i just bought medium blocks - they felt right.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Boil a pot of water for the pasta and cook pasta about 5 minutes. It will also cook a bit in the oven so you want it slightly undercooked.
- Heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it.
- In a large pot, melt about 4 tablespoons of butter and add the flour once the butter has melted (this is the roux we referenced above.)
- Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth.
- Add the hot sauce. The hot sauce should not make the mixture spicy but it should give it a little kick. I used Tabasco.
- Off the heat, add the Gruyere, cheddar, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
- Add the cooked macaroni and lobster and stir well. Taste of salt and pepper - this will cook in the oven but at this point the flavor should be right where you want it to be when eating.
- Once you are happy, place the mixture in a 9x12 casserole dish - you can also make individual servings if you have individual gratin dishes (not sure how many actually have these Ina!), but the casserole dish works just fine, trust me.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Use enough breadcrumbs so the mixture is a bit more crumbly than wet sand. You also need enough to cover the entire top of the casserole so if that means add a little more butter - do it.
- Top with the shredded parmesan.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.
Serve to your significant other and watch them enjoy.