Did you ever have a meal that reminded you of a special event, time or place?  Do you recall a special dish you had on vacation or something you picked up at a vending cart at a festival?  Or maybe you shared a meal with family and friends for a special occasion, such as a birthday or Christmas.  About a month ago we celebrated Josh’s graduation from college.  He’s a smart kid (I should say man), way smarter than his parents and we couldn’t be more proud!  So after the pomp and circumstance we took him out to dinner at the Capital Grille down on the plaza. There were a lot of families celebrating and the wait staff couldn’t have been any nicer.  Their menu was set up to order entrees and side dishes separately.  We were feeling adventurous and ordered the Lobster Mac and Cheese as our side which we were told was a signature dish and favorite of the staff. The entrees were delicious, but the lobster mac and cheese was the true stand out.  Served in a small cast iron skillet, the lobster was perfectly cooked with a light panko crunch in every bite while the blend of cheeses were so flavorful and creamy.  It made such an impression that I started searching the web to see if there was a copycat recipe anywhere out there.  I found a recipe I could work with and created a mac and cheese close to what we enjoyed at the Capital Grille.  From now on this mac and cheese will be a reminder of the night we celebrated Josh’s graduation.


I was not prepared to cook lobster meat and compromised with cooked langostino tails.  I know   . . . I know, they’re not real lobster but have a similar taste.  I went with 4 different cheeses, Mascarpone, Gruyere, Cheddar and Romano cheese, heavy cream, panko bread crumbs and Campanelle pasta.


You’ll want the pasta to be very al dente so that it will not overcook and become rubbery when baked.  I boiled it about 1/2 the time recommended on the box.  Drain pasta and place in a large bowl.


While the pasta is hot add in the cheeses.  Begin to stir them in to melt.


Pour in the heavy cream and stir some more.


I added a pinch of salt but found it needed a bit more.  About 1/2 teaspoon would be good.


Stir in the cooked lobster or langostino tails.


This will fit into a large 12″ cast iron skillet or baking dish.  I filled a miniature cast iron skillet to make an individual serving here.


Sprinkle panko bread crumbs over the top of the pasta. Drizzle olive oil over the top.


Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until the bread crumbs are crisp and brown and the cheeses have melted and begin the bubble.


A dressed up mac and cheese fit for a family get together or special occasion!


Langostino Mac and Cheese (adapted from The Talarico Family Cookbook)

1 box Campanelle Pasta
2 cups Heavy Cream
1/3 cup Mascarpone Cheese
1/3 cup Gruyere Cheese, grated
1/3 cup Cheddar Cheese, grated
1/3 cup Romano Cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 pound cooked Langostino Tails
1/4 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
Olive Oil, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the pasta al dente, about half the time of package directions.  Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl.  While the pasta is hot, stir in the cheeses and heavy cream.  Fold in the cooked langostino tails until they are well dispersed throughout the pasta.  Pour pasta into a large 12 inch cast iron skillet, sprinkle with panko bread crumbs and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake for 20 minutes or until bread crumbs are lightly browned and cheeses begin to bubble.

Serves 8