Mac and cheese has always been a favorite — what kid doesn’t love a good bowl of hot cheesy noodles? Pasta and cheese. How can that combo be bad?
Well, it’s not, but I know what can make it better…. CRAB. And more cheese. And spice!
I was such a picky eater growing up, but I knew I could always count on my grandmother’s macaroni and cheese at family get-together ‘pot-luck’ kinda things. She would make it homemade, and there was always a thick layer of baked cheese on top, which is what just made it so heavenly. Seriously, when there were like 15 dishes to choose from, my plate would consist of a roll, maybe a piece of meat, and her macaroni and cheese… then I’d go back for more (once everyone had their turn of course!)
For this spicy 4-cheese crab pasta, I used some awesome dried pasta I’d never cooked with before, it’s called calamarata, but feel free to use whatever pasta you want! I found this at World Market… I always like to pick up ingredients I’ve never used before, so these struck my eye when I was shopping. The calamarata noodles are shaped like large O’s and have slight ridges on the sides. They’re a little thicker than normal so it took about 13-14 minutes to cook, but it turned out great! I tossed it in a cheese sauce that I made from a few of the cheeses I had in my fridge. Feel free to substitute out any cheese if it’s hard to find or you just wanna be different!When the pasta was finished cooking and the sauce was complete, I tossed it all together in a baking dish. Make sure to save some of your shredded cheese to pour over the top. That layer of cheese is my favorite part!
I added the crab right on top of the noodle/sauce mix, underneath the top cheese layer, but you can mix it in with the sauce/pasta if you wish. Just be careful not to break the lumps of crabmeat too small. You know you want those big chunks of crab throughout!
- Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.
- Combine all shredded cheese in a medium bowl.
- Turn oven broiler on high.
- Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add butter. When butter is melted, add onions and cook until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add jalapenos and shallot and cook about 4-5 minutes more until fragrant and soft. Season with salt and pepper and add cayenne. Add flour and stir until combined.
- Add half-and-half and wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in about ⅔ of the cheese until thick and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Drain pasta and add to a large serving dish. Pour over sauce and stir all together. Add crab and stir gently so as to not break it up too much. Top with the rest of the cheese and add to the oven to on highest rack to melt cheese under broiler. It’s done when it’s all golden brown on top. Garnish with green onions or chives.
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