Crab Mac & Cheese
With the days getting shorter and the chill in the air, I wanted something a little heavy for dinner. A one pot meal, some kind of casserole that would make good leftovers for the next day or so and just give me that good comfy feeling. Enter macaroni and cheese.
Macaroni and cheese is sort of my thing. I started making it from scratch right after college. I made it for my family for Thanksgiving that year and ever since then, that was my contribution. My contribution has since increased but I still make a mean mac & cheese.
A few years ago, I wanted to up the ante when my hubby and I had a mac & cheese throwdown. I made what we’ve dubbed “the fancy mac & cheese” with mushrooms, herbed butter and truffle oil. I know I’m doing all this talking about a fantastic dish that I’m not even sharing with you today but my goal *fingers crossed* is to share it with you soon so you can be the star at this years holiday gathering. But I had to tell you that to lead into the makings of this crab mac & cheese because the béchamel sauce that is use in the fancy mac & cheese is the key to this dish!
Oh and the crab of course. I thought about making lobster mac & cheese, which I guess is more common. But I was ballin’ on a budget this week and thought crab would be a likely alternative. And you know what? I was right. Cheese, noodles and seafood all baked together…comfy food accomplished!
Your how to
1 lb dried cavatappi pasta
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 ½ cup half & half
1 ½ cup whole milk
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
kosher salt and pepper, eyeball it
¼ cup clam juice
handful finely chopped Italian parsley
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded fontina cheese
½ cup parmigiano-reggiano, finely grated
8 oz. crab meat
¼ cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a large pot, boil one quart of water and season generously with salt. Once it starts to boil add the pasta too cook, al dente. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water and set aside. In the same pot, make the cheese sauce. Over medium-high heat, add 3 tablespoons of butter to melt. Once it starts to foam add the flour, one tablespoon at a time, whisking vigorously to remove the lumps. Let it cook for 1 minute to get rid of the flour taste. Add 1 ½ cup of warmed half & half, and continue to whisk until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the 1 ½ cups of warmed milk and continue whisking. As the sauce begins to thicken, reduce the heat and allow it to come to a simmer. Once the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove it from the heat completely. Add the nutmeg, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste, clam juice and parsley and mix well. Then add the Parmesan cheese, 1 ½ cup of cheddar cheese and 1 ½ cup of fontina cheese until it’s melted and smooth, about a minute or two. In the same pot or in a separate large bowl, combine the pasta and crabmeat with the cheese sauce and fold together gently until it’s completely coated. In a lightly buttered baking dish, pour in half of the macaroni mixture. Sprinkle with half of the remaining cheese. Add the remaining macaroni and top with all of the remaining cheese on top. Sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs.
Bake in a 350 degree oven on the middle oven rack for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbly all over. Remove from the oven and all to cool for 10 minutes. Enjoy!
Chat ya’ later