Crab mac ‘n’ cheese. Need I say more? I will because it deserves it. Macaroni cheese is without a doubt one of my favouriteist (yeah it’s a word) foods in the whole world. I know, I know – it’s not very adventurous. But when it comes down to it, this is the food I would order as my last meal on death row. I crave it on a hangover. Every time it rains I wish for it. The thing is, despite it being the best thing in the world, I never ever eat it. In fact, the last time I made it was about a year ago.
It’s just so damn good that I just can’t resist eating FAR more than is healthy. I deny myself :-(
It’s not just me. My boyfriend Scott used to be obsessed with the stuff. (Although he’s pretty gross and used to eat cold cans of Heinz mac with a heap load of ketchup mixed in – it was a sicky fleshy pink colour and tasted rank by the way!) My obsession was also with a variety I’d shudder at now. School dinner mac ‘n’ cheese. Hideously flabby, obligatory overcooked pasta, with a greasy thick and pretty mild sauce. The saving grace – a thick cheesy golden crust. So many children despised it that there was always seconds on offer. I’d join the short queue for more every time, with my to-be boyfriend not far behind.
I decided that it was about time mac ‘n’ cheese got back in our lives. But we’re grown up now and own things like a Nigel Slater book with a recipe for crab mac ‘n’ cheese. I didn’t follow the recipe, but loved the idea and incorporated this into my much-loved mac ‘n’ cheese recipe (normally I use lots of blue cheese, Parmesan, cheddar and mascarpone!).
This recipe was adapted to the cheese I had available and and subtle crab flavours present. The melting, gooey taleggio was particularly good with the crab – ever so slightly smokey, and the most brilliant texture. And the chilli crumbs provided the perfect textural contrast, plus a welcome little warmth in the mouth.
This for me is a grown up mac ‘n’ cheese that has a subtle crabby taste running throughout – just perfect. Possibly actually my new favourite recipe.
What’s your favourite way to cook mac ‘n’ cheese? Do you use cream or prefer a classic bechamel as I do? Would you ever dream of adding crab or is bacon more your style? Let me know! I’d love to meet some other fanatics :-)
You will need:
100g mixed (white and brown) good quality crab meat
80g mature cheddar
2 heaped tbspn butter
1 heaped tbspn flour
Approx. 400ml milk
1 bay leaf
1 tspn chilli flakes
2 heaped tbspn Panko
1 – Start by grating the cheddar and Parmesan whilst you boil your macaroni to al dente in salted water
2 – Drain the macaroni once cooked, reserving about a cup of cooking water
3 – Make your breadcrumbs; heat 1 tbspn of the butter in a frying pan and add the panko
4 – Fry, stirring constantly, til golden and then add the chilli, seasoning and remove from the heat; stir in 1 tbspn of grated Parmesan once cool
5 – Now move on to the sauce; heat the remaining butter in a saucepan and once frothy and melted, stir in the flour
6 – Allow the flour to brown lightly before gradually whisking in the milk; season and add the bay leaf and leave to simmer and thicken, stirring often
7 – Once the sauce is thick, remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf and add the remaining Parmesan and cheddar
8 – Stir into the cooked macaroni the crab meat, taleggio, cheese sauce and reserved pasta cooking water as needed to form a luscious and creamy coated pasta; check seasoning
9 – Pour the pasta into a baking dish or pot and top with the crumbs; pop into a preheated oven (at 180 degrees) for around 10 minutes to warm though then flick on the grill instead to crisp up the topping; it’s done when it’s bubbling!