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Elevate your Macaroni & Cheese

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Sure the fireworks are the biggest attraction at any July 4th celebration, but that doesn't mean your holiday meals can't be just as explosive.

American chef Ryan Solien, the chef de cuisine at Victoria Grill, gave us a recipe for an ‘elevated' macaroni and cheese dish that aims to blow the socks off of any dinner guests you're hosting this weekend.

He also shared a little bit about what the Independence Day holiday meant for him now, as well as back when he was growing up in Kansas City, Missouri.

Fourth of July (celebrated today) is considered to be one of the largest holidays in the United States.

It has an important historical significance for Americans in that on this day in 1776, United States was given its first taste of freedom from the United Kingdom with the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

These days people enjoy it mostly as a day off to spend with friends and family, eat delicious comfort foods like fried chicken, burgers and ribs and take in the spectacular fireworks displays in their area.

“When I was growing up fireworks was a big thing,” Mr Solien said.

“There would be little stands that sprang up before the holiday selling fireworks and my dad would give me a few bucks and we'd buy crackers, bottle rockets and fountains.”

Back then there were fewer regulations for using fireworks, but Mr Solien said you still had to be careful as occasionally one would blow up in someone's hands.

At night his family would typically go to the centre of their town and watch the big fireworks display — the climax of the event.

“Some American cities have spectacular fireworks and the whole city is known for that year round,” he said. “Knoxville, Tennessee has an amazing one on their bridge.”

Although this is also his birthday weekend, Mr Solien will be spending his time catering for Island Restaurant Group at two private Independence Day events.

“If there's time he'll probably have a beer with some of his friends; he used to joke that the fireworks and festivities were all being done in his honour.

Both catered events are “more extravagant celebrations”, so Mr Solien and his team will be taking a unique approach to classic comfort foods.

“We are definitely doing some grilling, but will incorporate lobster, tuna tartar and ceviche, which are more elevated type foods,” the chef explained.

He said that being American meant a lot of different things to him on occasions like this.

“We have a few more freedoms that some other places aren't fortunate enough to have,” he explained. “This is also supposed to be a holiday to remember the people who have sacrificed and come before you. So as an American you think about that.

“I'm not sure if it's remembered in the way it should be. Everyone remembers it's the country's birthday and they get the day off, but they maybe forget why they have the day off.”

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese

Servings: 6

Preparation time: 15 min


1lb elbow macaroni (or any short pasta you prefer)

¼ cup shallots diced (red onion is also good)

2 cloves of garlic

¼ cup dry white wine

2 cups heavy cream

2 tbs butter

1lb lobster meat (its nice to leave in large pieces, you could also substitute shrimp or crab)

6 oz of nice cheddar cheese (you can be creative and use several different kind of cheese if you wish i.e. Boursin, Brie, Parmesan)

2tbs chopped parsley

¼ cup of breadcrumbs.

In a pot of salted boiling water cook pasta until al dente (try not to overcook as you will be cooking it in the cheese sauce as well).

In a large sauce pan sauté shallots and garlic until soft, being careful not to burn.

Deglaze pan with white wine. Add heavy cream and reduce by 1/3.

Then add butter and lobster meat, stir to combine. Next, add cheese and parsley and stir.

Before finally adding pasta and giving the mixture a few final stirs.

Victoria Grill Chef Ryan Solien says that Independence Day celebrations are all about comfort foods like burgers, fried chicken and ribs. He made up a plate of Southern fried chicken, triple mac and cheese and braised collard greens. (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Ryan Solien. (Photo by Akil Simmons)

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Published July 04, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated July 03, 2014 at 10:39 pm)

Elevate your Macaroni & Cheese

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