Lobster Macaroni Cheese with Lobster Bisque à la Hawksmoor

This recipe really is a labour of love. Or a weekend recipe as we like to call it. But believe me it is worth it!

Hawksmoor is one of our favourite restaurants in London, T swears their steak is one of the best and I can't get enough of their lobster rolls or even better their version of Lobster Mac and Cheese. I was somewhat inconsolable the first time I tried this, three of my most favourite things all in one dish - pasta, cheese and shellfish - you really can't get much better than that. Now I've had lobster in Mac and Cheese before and it can be a little bit disappointing... a really good strong cheese sauce can overpower the delicate lobster somewhat, before we even get to the fact that baking the dish in the oven means you get dangerously close to overcooking the precious lobster meat. BUT the Hawksmoor dish ticks the boxes on all these counts, not only is the lobster perfectly cooked, but they serve it with the most amazing lobster bisque - OMG it tastes bloody brilliant! No need to worry about not getting your lobster hit here, the bisque makes sure that every mouthful has the perfect taste of shellfish, and it goes so well with the cheese sauce.

Really, you have to try this one!

After returning twice in the space of two weeks to sample this beautiful dish I decided we had to crack making it at home.

As I said, it really is a labour of love, but you have to trust me here it is worth it! Not only do you need to make a bisque from the shells, but you'll also need a live lobster to do so... which is an undertaking in itself. The first time we tried to cook one of these bad boys was the most traumatic moment our kitchen has ever seen... needless to say I do not trust the freezer method and now always get our fishmonger to dispatch the lobster (very quickly and humanely) before running home to cook it immediately... If you happen to know of an amazing fishmonger that sells fresh prepared lobster meat and lobster bisque then you could miss out this step entirely (and if you do please let me know!)...

Now the Hawksmoor version is nigh on perfect, but to give it even more of an edge I decided to make a version of  Heston's mac and cheese. He uses reduced white wine and chicken stock as the base of the sauce which means you don't get that slight clagyness that comes with a flour based sauce, and therefore in my opinion makes the best macaroni cheese you have ever tasted.

No go forth and cook Lobster!


Lobster Macaroni Cheese with Lobster Bisque

Serves 2 (generously!)

Ingredients
1 small fresh lobster

Bisque
Lobster shells
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into big chunks
1 onion, peeled and chopped into big chunks
2 sticks celery, chopped into big chunks
2 tomatoes, chopped into big chunks
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs tarragon
250ml white wine
500ml fish or chicken stock or water
1 tbsp corn flour
1 tbsp cream
juice of 1/4 lemon

Mac and Cheese (adapted from Heston Blumenthal)
200g dried macaroni pasta
300ml white wine
300ml chicken or vegetable stock
80g gruyere cheese finely grated
10g corn flour
80g cream cheese
15g rindless goats cheese or mozarella
Paremesan cheese for the topping

Method
Boil the lobster in salted water for 5 minutes just until the shell has turned completely red. Drain and refresh in iced water to stop it cooking. Extract all the meat from the tail and claws, discard the gills and keep all the shells. Chill the lobster meat at this stage if you don't need straight away but remember to bring to room temp before cooking the mac and cheese.

Bisque
Heat a generous knob of butter and some olive oil in a large stock pan. Add the shells and fry over a medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Add all the vegetables and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes until everything is well browned and there is a strong shellfish aroma. Add the herbs, white wine and stock or water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook for 1-2 hours (depending on how much time you have!).

Carefully add the stock to a blender (you might need to do this in batches) and whizz until all the shells and vegetables are broken down. Strain the stock through a fine sieve lined with muslin, pushing the solids down to make sure you extract all the liquid. Add the liquid back to a clean pan and reduce by half over a high heat. In a small bowl mix the corn flour together with a tbsp of the bisque then add this into the rest of the mixture, stir well over a medium heat until the bisque has thickened. Add the cream, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper, then keep warm until needed (or refrigerate with cling film on the surface if making the day before, then reheat when needed).

Mac and Cheese
Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C.

Cook the pasta until al-dente, following the package instructions but stopping a good two minutes before the time it specifies.

In a small saucepan reduce the white wine over a medium heat until you are only left with a few tablespoons (Heston specify's 30ml). Add the stock to the white wine to heat. Mix the gruyere cheese and corn flour together and add to the wine/stock mixture, season well with black pepper. Stir well then add the drained pasta. Cook over a medium heat for a minute or two, stirring all the time until the sauce has thickened, then add the cream cheese.

Divide the lobster meat between two oven proof dishes. Pour a quarter of the mac and cheese into each dish  and sprinkle over the goats cheese, top with the remaining mac and cheese. Sprinkle over freshly grated parmesan and drizzle over olive oil or melted butter. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until bubbling and then finish under the grill for a few minutes until the top is golden brown. Serve with the warm lobster bisque.