Comfort meets elegance in this yummy stove top mac and cheese made with Dungeness crab and three types of ooey gooey cheese. Serve it at your next dinner party and wait for the applause!
2 Dungeness crab clusters, crabmeat and shells reserved separately (about 1 cup crabmeat) Available in Our Premium Seafood Subscription Box
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cups half-and-half or light cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
12 ounces elbow macaroni (about 3 cups) or other small pasta
6 ounces sharp white cheddar, shredded (1½ cups)
6 ounces imported fontina or Gruyère cheese, shredded (1½ cups)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
MAKE THE STOCK
In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine the crab shells with the tomato paste, thyme sprigs, and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof measuring cup. You should have about 3 cups.
COOK THE MACARONI
In a large, deep ovenproof skillet or shallow Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and just beginning to brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the half-and-half and 2 cups of the crab stock (reserve the remaining stock) and bring to a simmer. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the macaroni, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is tender and the liquid is nearly absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes.
FINISH AND SERVE
Meanwhile, position a rack 8 inches from the heat source and preheat the broiler. Stir ¼ cup of the reserved crab stock, the cheddar, and the fontina into the macaroni mixture. Cover and let stand off the heat for 2 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season with pepper and fold in the parsley and crab meat.
In a bowl, combine the Parmesan, panko, and oil. Sprinkle it evenly over the pasta. Broil until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Watch closely as broilers vary greatly. Serve right away.
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Pair it Up
A rich white wine, like a lightly-oaked Chardonnay or a northern Italian white, plays well with the richness of the cream and cheese while simultaneously providing a welcome acidity.
Spice it Up
For added flavor in the crab stock, substitute 2 cups clam juice for half the water and add 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning.
Level it Up
Cover and rewarm leftovers in the oven or microwave. Refresh by stirring in a few tablespoons of water, cream, or leftover crab stock.