Crab Mac & Cheese is what happens when I can't sleep... you will be very happy for my insomnia after you taste this indulgence!
My husband, Jeff, had to work this past Sunday and I thought I might take advantage of that by taking a mid day nap. Napping isn't something I do often, but I can honestly say some days I yearn for the cool sheets and short slumber that a nap offers. So, off I went.
Here comes the mind race
Then I remembered why I don't often take naps... my mind keeps on going and refuses to quiet down. I'm lying there and really trying to turn off my brain, but it keeps thinking about; what I can make for dinner, what new recipes I can develop, and how to finish setting up my website. No matter how hard I fight against it, my brain wins.
After all those thoughts of food, now I'm hungry. Hungry for comfort food. Hmmm.... what can I make? Before I even get out of bed, I know I am going to make some macaroni and cheese. At this point, it was going to be a very basic mac and cheese; pasta, milk and Velveeta... can't get simpler than that.
Simple to Superb
So, I head on into the kitchen and find some pasta in the pantry, then my eyes go towards the red, yellow and orange mini peppers and I think, I should really use some of those in the mac and cheese....and that's when my "simple and straight-forward" mac and cheese started to become more interesting.
I grabbed different cheeses from the fridge and remembered that I had some left over crab meat... yep, let's use that too! So there it is...the recipe for Crab Mac & Cheese has come to life.
What you'll need for Crab Mac & Cheese
- Large pot for boiling pasta and a strainer
- Large Casserole dish
- Penne Pasta (you can use what you have on hand, but this really was a great fit for the crab mac & cheese)
- Crab meat
- Portobello mushrooms
- Mini sweet yellow peppers, cut into strips (or a yellow bell pepper)
- Smoked Greyer
- White Cheddar
- Cream Cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- Shrimp Stock
- ½ and ½
- Salt and Pepper
Fill a large pot with about 12 cups of water, allow to boil and add in 1 tablespoon of Kosher or Sea Salt. When boiling add in 1 (16 oz) box of Penne Pasta and cook according to package instructions or just to al dente. This takes about 10-12 minutes. We want the pasta to be just slightly firm because it will cook a little longer in the oven.
While your pasta is cooking, roughly chop your mushrooms, dice your onion and slice up your peppers. I like to cut the peppers into strips because I think they look really pretty in the mac and cheese, but you can chop them if you prefer. In this picutre I used small mini peppers, but if you can't find them, use a yellow pepper and cut into thin strips, then cut the strips into thirds. Grate your cheeses (except Parmesan) and set aside.
When your pasta is al dente, strain water out in a colander or strainer. Place noodles in your casserole dish.
In a large frying pan, melt butter over medium heat and add in your mushrooms, peppers, onion, salt and pepper. Sauté for about 3 minutes or until they are slightly tender. Remember, they will cook in the casserole, so you don't want to overcook them.
Add in your flour and continue to cook, stirring constantly. You want to incorporate the flour with the vegetable mixture and allow the butter to combine with the flour. Cook over medium low heat for about 2- 3 minutes. You want to cook out the flour taste, but be careful not to burn the butter/flour mixture.
Add in chicken stock and ½ and ½, stir to incorporate liquid. You will see that your sauce begins to thicken slightly. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any flour/butter that may be stuck to your pan.
Once your sauce has thickened slightly, add in your cheeses (except Parmesan) and continue to stir over low to medium heat until cheese melts. Your sauce will thicken up and begin to look like this.
Add in crab meat and tomatoes and remove from heat. Pour mixture over the penne pasta (already in your casserole dish) and stir gently to combine. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed and the sauce is thick and creamy.
Remove from oven, top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese...Serve and Enjoy!
This was one of the best macaroni and cheese dishes I've ever had! It's rich and creamy with a hint of smokiness.
Crabby Mac & Cheese | The Ultimate Comfort Food
- 1 16 ounce Box Penne Pasta
- 2 Tablespoons Salted Butter
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Pepper
- 3 Small Sweet Yellow Peppers you can use one large yellow pepper
- ½ Vidalia Onion diced
- 1 Cup Portobello Mushrooms about three baby portobellos, roughly chopped
- 2 Tablespoons Flour
- 1 Cup Chicken Stock
- ½ Cup Half and Half Cream
- 4 Ounces 1 Cup Smoke Greyer, grated
- 3 ounce ¾ Cup Asiago, grated
- 8 Ounces 2 Cups White Cheddar, grated
- 4 Ounces Cream Cheese
- 8 Ounces Crab Meat
- 1 Tomato about a cup diced
- ½ Cup Parmesan Cheese finely grated
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a 6 quart pot, heat 12 cups of water and 1- 2 Tablespoons of salt on high until boiling. Add penne pasta and cook about 10 minutes or until it's al dente (slightly firm)
- While your pasta is cooking, roughly chop the mushrooms, slice the yellow pepper into thin strips and dice your onion.
- When the pasta is done, drain the pasta in a colander and pour the pasta into a 9x13 casserole dish. Set aside until cheese sauce is finished.
- In a large saute pan, heat the butter on medium until melted. Add in mushrooms, peppers, onions, salt, pepper and old bay seasoning. Saute about 3 minutes.
- Add flour to saute pan and stir to incorporate flour with the butter and vegetable mixture
- Add shrimp stock and ½ and ½, stirring constantly over medium heat until sauce begins to thicken
- Add in grated cheeses (except Parmesan) and cream cheese, continue to cook until cheese has melted and your sauce has thickened.
- Add in tomatoes and crab meat ,stir to combine and turn heat off
- Pour cheese & crab meat mixture over pasta and stir gently to combine.
- Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until you have a thick and creamy sauce.
- Remove from oven, Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on top.
- Serve and Enjoy!