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posted: 5/7/2012 2:58 PM

"Lobster" Mac and Cheese

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1 pound large gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined

teaspoon salt

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teaspoon paprika

teaspoon cayenne pepper

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

cup all-purpose flour

3 cups whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

1 tablespoon dry mustard

1 pound macaroni

1 pound extra-sharp cheddar

1 pound fresh mozzarella

2 cups panko

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Pat your shrimp dry and cut each piece in half. Toss with salt, paprika and cayenne pepper.

Place 1 tablespoon butter in a nonstick skillet, and when the butter is hot, add your shrimp and cook until just pink (about 3 to 5 minutes); set aside.

Cook your macaroni in a 6- to 7-quart pot of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Melt remaining stick butter in a large saucepan over moderate heat, then add flour and cook, whisking, 1 minute. Be careful not to burn the flour -- it tends to brown rather quickly. Gradually whisk in milk, cream and mustard and simmer, whisking occasionally, 3 minutes.

Chop your cheddar and mozzarella, whisking a handful or so into the pot as you go. It will take a while, about 15 minutes, for it to melt completely. Stir in your macaroni and shrimp; add salt and pepper if necessary.

Fill a large casserole dish with your macaroni mixture and sprinkle panko evenly on top. Spray the top of the bread crumbs with olive oil so they do not burn in the oven. Bake casserole in the middle of oven for 30 minutes, or until bubbly.

Serves eight to 10.

Cook's note: When I first made this I used large pieces of lobster and gulf shrimp. However, I thought the shrimp was more flavorful than the lobster, so now I nix the lobster entirely.

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