How Lobster Mac And Cheese Became An Iconic, Decadent Duo

Whether you're looking for warm comfort food or a luxurious dish, lobster mac and cheese can satisfy both cravings at once. It's a high-brow, low-brow mash-up that truly gives you the best of both worlds. Tender, succulent lobster chunks are mixed into gooey noodles and cheese for a rich dish that will leave you feeling satisfied every time. Lobster is the perfect seafood for this occasion, as it doesn't have too fishy of a taste, and its soft texture means it can blend in perfectly with the creaminess of the sauced pasta. So, who thought up this tasty combination in the first place? 

Its roots can be traced back to two recipes from the late 1800s when a few other creamy seafood dishes popped up that may have inspired the original lobster mac and cheese. One was Lobster Newburg, which involves cooking the crustaceans in a sauce with cream, butter, wine, and egg yolks. Another was Coquilles Saint Jacques, which coats Saint Jacques scallops with a mixture of mushrooms, wine, shallots, cream, egg yolks, and Gruyère cheese. These dishes may be pretty far off from the comfort food we know today — but we get a little closer in Harriet A. De Salis' sorrento oysters, which mixed actual chopped macaroni with oysters and a cheesy, creamy sauce.

The city that never sleeps on lobster mac and cheese

Fast forward to the 1900s, and we start to see recorded instances of lobster mac and cheese. A famous Italian restaurant in New York City, Mamma Leone's, is often credited with the first actual combination of the crustacean and the pasta dish — which makes for an interesting origin story since Italians are famously skeptical about mixing cheese and seafood. The philosophy of separating these two may come from the fact that rich, creamy sauces (like the ones in our noteworthy dish, here) can overwhelm the subtler flavors in lobster. 

If you've ever tried this version of mac and cheese, you can likely attest to the fact that the seafood doesn't bring a strong flavor — but the combination of buttery flavors is too delectable to pass over. Modern iterations of the dish include chef Thomas Keller's from "The French Laundry Cookbook," which came out in 1999. Here, you'll find three whole lobsters — as well as lobster broth, roe, and mascarpone — although Keller uses orzo instead of classic macaroni noodles. 

Then, in 2009, an increase in the lobster supply and a dip in its cost may have allowed it to travel into new restaurants and dishes, which opened the door for the mac and cheese to become more popular. But whether one restaurant ultimately created the dish or it was an innovation that evolved over the years, our bellies are just grateful that lobster mac and cheese exists today.