Crab mac ‘n’ cheese with chilli crumbs and taleggio

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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 :-(

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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!).

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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.

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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
300g macaroni
100g taleggio
80g Parmesan
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
Salt, pepper

Method:

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!

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7 thoughts on “Crab mac ‘n’ cheese with chilli crumbs and taleggio

  1. Haha, I love the sound of those junk food mac n’ cheese addictions from your and Scott’s youth… I was exactly the same, though I also ate two minute noodles even more frequently! How tastebuds (and skill levels!) change. This gorgeous talleggio and crab mac n’ cheese sounds incredible, particularly with the crisp, golden chilli crumbs. Yum. I’d happily eat this for dinner any way (without tomato sauce, ha!) xx

    1. Oh he has the same thing with Chinese pot noodles (he grew up in Hong Kong so I reckon they’re at least halfway more decent that our uk ones… Maybe)
      Ketchup was officially banned from that dinner – and you’re right, the crumbs really just took it to a whole new level :-) xx

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