Monday, January 4, 2010

Shrimp Mac and Cheese

Why hello, 2010! Nice to meet you. Hopefully you're a nice year and not a bad year. Brian brought up an interesting point the other night. He said that he heard a man say "I don't pray for a better year when the new year rolls around, because God always ends up making my year bad to prove how blessed I was the year before. Now I just say that I pray I'm blessed in the new year." Very wise and very true.

But, I digress.

This mac and cheese was made on New Year's Eve as a way to say "Bye bye fattening foods. Hello, diet." I realize I'm showing you this late and that most have probably begun some sort a diet regimen (I know I have). But, keep this recipe in mind for, oh let's say, March when the diet is out the window. :)

The original recipe calls for lobster, but at 5:15pm on New Years Eve, I didn't want to hunt down lobster, so I opted for frozen shrimp, which was equally delicious.

Lobster/Shrimp Mac and Cheese
Source: The Neelys

4 tablespoons butter, plus 1 tablespoon for greasing dish
Kosher salt
1 pound penne pasta
2 small shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white wine
4 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
2 cups shredded sharp white Cheddar
2 cups shredded Gruyere
2 (8-ounce) raw lobster tails, defrosted if frozen, meat removed from shell, chopped OR one bag frozen shrimp, defrosted, and chopped
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and adjust racks to the middle. Grease a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with butter.

In a large pot of boiling salted water over medium heat, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve.

Add 4 tablespoons butter to a large pot over medium heat. Once the butter shimmers, add the shallots and garlic and saute until translucent. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the tomato paste and flour and stir to toast, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the white wine and reduce, by half, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the cream, whisking well to remove any lumps. Add the paprika, cayenne, and bay leaf. Bring the cream up to a simmer and turn the heat to low. Let reduce until the cream is thick and can coat a spoon, about 5 to 10 minutes. When thickened, remove the bay leaves.

Stir in the grated cheeses, a handful at a time, combining well after each addition. Add the chopped lobster meat to the sauce and stir well. Add the pasta and stir. Add to the greased baking dish and sprinkle with the panko crumbs and parsley. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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