Lobster, Crab and Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese

Introduction

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Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? It’s the ultimate comfort food, beloved by children and adults alike. But what if you could take this classic dish and elevate it to new heights of luxury and indulgence? Imagine creamy, cheesy pasta with succulent shrimp and tender lobster, creating a rich and decadent meal that’s perfect for special occasions or when you simply want to treat yourself and your loved ones. This isn’t your everyday mac and cheese; it’s a gourmet experience worth savoring.

Table of Contents

Sr#Headings
1Introduction
2Ingredients
3Preparation Steps
4Cooking the Pasta
5Making the Cheese Sauce
6Preparing the Seafood
7Assembling the Dish
8Baking Instructions
9Serving Suggestions
10Tips for Success
11Variations and Substitutions

Ingredients

Before you start cooking, gather all the ingredients to ensure you have everything you need. Here’s what you’ll need for this luxurious shrimp and lobster mac and cheese:

  • 1 Pound Penne Pasta or Large Elbow Pasta
  • 3 Cups Whole Milk
  • 2 Cups Half & Half
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ¼ Cup Onion, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme, chopped
  • 1 to 2 Cloves Fresh Garlic, finely minced
  • 3 Level Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
  • Kosher Salt (to taste)
  • Black Pepper (to taste)
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons Grand Diamond All Purpose Seasoning (to taste)
  • 2 to 3 Teaspoons Hot Sauce or Tabasco (to taste)
  • 1 to 2 Teaspoons Liquid Crab Boil (optional)
  • 3 Cups (about 12 Ounces) Gouda Cheese or Monterey Jack Cheese, grated
  • 3 Cups (about 8 Ounces) Muenster Cheese or Mild Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • 1 Cup (a little less than 4 Ounces) Gruyere Cheese, grated
  • 1 Pound Shrimp, raw, deveined, tail removed, Size 14-16 or 31-40
  • ½ to ¾ Pound Lobster, raw or pre-steamed, chopped into chunks (3 to 4 small lobster tails will do)
  • ½ to ¾ Pound Lump Crab, your choice
  • Nonstick Cooking Spray (optional)

Preparation Steps

Before diving into the cooking process, it’s essential to prepare your ingredients properly. This ensures a smooth cooking experience and helps you stay organized.

Chop and Dice

  • Onions: Dice the onions finely to ensure they blend well into the sauce.
  • Garlic: Mince the garlic cloves finely.
  • Thyme: Chop the fresh thyme.

Grate the Cheeses

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Grate all the cheeses (Gouda or Monterey Jack, Muenster or Mild Cheddar, and Gruyere) and toss them together in a large bowl. This mixture will be used in both the sauce and the layering of the dish.

Season the Seafood

Season the shrimp and lobster with salt, pepper, and a little bit of the Grand Diamond All Purpose Seasoning. Set them aside to marinate while you prepare the other components of the dish.

Cooking the Pasta

The first step in creating this gourmet dish is cooking the pasta. Follow these instructions for perfectly cooked pasta:

  1. Boil Water: In a large stockpot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil over high heat.
  2. Season Water: Add 3 tablespoons of salt to the boiling water. This helps to season the pasta from the inside out.
  3. Cook Pasta: Add the pasta and cook until just al dente, about 2 minutes short of the suggested cooking time on the package. The pasta will continue to cook in the oven, so it’s important not to overcook it now.
  4. Drain Pasta: Once done, drain the pasta but do not rinse it. Toss it with 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil to keep it from sticking together while you prepare the sauce.

Making the Cheese Sauce

A rich and creamy cheese sauce is the heart of any great mac and cheese. Here’s how to make it:

  1. Preheat Milk and Half & Half: Preheat the milk and half & half together in the microwave for about 3 to 4 minutes. This ensures they blend smoothly into the roux.
  2. Make the Roux: In a large skillet, melt the butter and olive oil together over medium-high heat. Add the diced onions and sauté for about 3 to 4 minutes or until soft. Add the flour and stir continuously for about 2 minutes to create a roux. Do not let it brown.
  3. Add Garlic and Thyme: Add the finely minced garlic and chopped thyme to the roux. Cook for another minute.
  4. Whisk in Milk Mixture: While whisking vigorously, add the preheated milk mixture to the roux. Continue whisking until the sauce is smooth and has no lumps.
  5. Season the Sauce: Add salt, pepper, Grand Diamond All Purpose Seasoning, hot sauce, and optional liquid crab boil to taste. Simmer the sauce for about 5 to 8 minutes, whisking occasionally, until it has thickened.
  6. Melt the Cheese: Turn off the heat and add 3 cups of the grated cheese mixture to the sauce. Stir until the cheese has melted and the sauce is well combined.

Preparing the Seafood

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While the cheese sauce is simmering, prepare the seafood:

  1. Shrimp: Ensure the shrimp are deveined, tails removed, and seasoned.
  2. Lobster: If using raw lobster, steam it lightly and chop it into chunks. If using pre-steamed lobster, simply chop it into chunks.
  3. Crab: Choose your favorite type of lump crab meat and ensure it is ready to go.

Assembling the Dish

Now that all the components are ready, it’s time to assemble the dish:

  1. Combine Pasta and Sauce: Stir the drained pasta into the cheese sauce until well coated.
  2. Layering: In a lightly sprayed 9×13 baking dish, pour in half of the macaroni and cheese mixture. Spread it out evenly.
  3. Add Seafood: Place the first layer of seafood, using half of the shrimp, lobster, and crab.
  4. Cheese Layer: Sprinkle 2 cups of the reserved grated cheese mixture over the seafood.
  5. Repeat Layers: Add the next layer of macaroni and cheese, then repeat the layering of seafood and cheese, ending with a final layer of the remaining 2 cups of cheese on top.

Baking Instructions

The final step is baking the assembled dish to perfection:

  1. Preheat Oven: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cover and Bake: Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  3. Uncover and Finish: Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted and the seafood is cooked through.

Serving Suggestions

This rich and decadent shrimp and lobster mac and cheese is a showstopper on its own, but you can pair it with a few simple sides to complete your meal:

  • Green Salad: A fresh green salad with a light vinaigrette helps balance the richness of the mac and cheese.
  • Garlic Bread: Serve with warm, crusty garlic bread to soak up every bit of the delicious cheese sauce.
  • Steamed Vegetables: Lightly steamed broccoli or asparagus make a great side dish.

Tips for Success

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To ensure your shrimp and lobster mac and cheese turns out perfectly every time, keep these tips in mind:

  • Use Fresh Ingredients: Fresh seafood and high-quality cheese make a significant difference in the flavor of the dish.
  • Don’t Overcook the Pasta: Remember, the pasta will continue to cook in the oven, so undercook it slightly during the boiling stage.
  • Season Generously: Taste your cheese sauce before combining it with the pasta to ensure it’s well-seasoned.
  • Layer Evenly: Distribute the seafood and cheese layers evenly for consistent flavor in every bite.

Variations and Substitutions

Feel free to customize this dish to suit your preferences or dietary needs:

  • Different Cheeses: Try using different types of cheese like Parmesan, Asiago, or Fontina for a unique flavor profile.
  • Alternative Seafood: Substitute or add other seafood like scallops or clams.
  • Spicier Kick: Increase the amount of hot sauce or add some red pepper flakes for a spicier version.

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